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I encountered two articles recently, the ideas of which I quite like. I'll list them both and give my reasons.
True charity calls for more than a parish toy drive: Christmas giving must go beyond toys on the side altar. by David Cloutier, published November 24, 2020 in U. S. Catholic.
His ideas and arguments are quite nuanced and I don't want to reframe them here, especially in a way he may not support. The article is worth reading. Thinking about true charity is something we all need to contemplate.

If you've ever been a recipient of charity, you know the efforts, however well-intentioned, can often fall short. I've mentioned before that you shouldn't assume someone needs something because it's what you want to give them or do for them.

Assessing their true needs and addressing that can be difficult and the personal aspect and interaction is often what is most important. As the writer states: "We feel we have done our part to help out the “less fortunate” without ever actually needing to encounter them." Encountering them may be the most important component of the charitable effort, though.

It made me wonder if the priest and Levite who passed by the suffering man on the road in the good Samaritan parable gave generously to their local Christmas toy drive and called it good.

Do we do essentially the same?

He concludes with an example from the film, It's a Wonderful Life:
When George returns from his joyous sprint through the snowy streets of Bedford Falls, he arrives home to find the whole community coming and pitching in their dollars to help his business out of a difficult situation. And the business itself, the old Bailey Building and Loan, is the instrument that has made possible homeownership for many of the poor in the community, pooling their resources and treating them humanely in managing their mortgage, by contrast with the tight-fisted and ruthless banker and landlord Mr. Potter. The Bailey Building and Loan represents an institution of justice. The line of Christmas givers at the Bailey home, pitching in their dollars, represents the true essence of charity: encountering and helping particular people directly in their time of dire need, just as the angel shows what George has done throughout his own life.
The second article comes from a publication I receive from Hillsdale College:
I found his ideas on idol worship most compelling:

No one would get out of bed in the morning unless he believed in some value that is ultimately motivating his actions and decisions. This might be bodily pleasure or fame or material goods, or it might be one’s country or family, but if it is functioning as the prime mover of a person’s activity, it is playing the role of a god and it is being, in effect, worshiped.


The altar erected to Baal should be taken as standing for all the ways in which we order the infinite longing of our hearts to something less than God. When we do this, the fire never falls, because merely worldly things cannot, even in principle, satisfy our hungry souls. And when we persist in worshiping falsely, we find ourselves, in short order, caught in an addictive pattern, hopping obsessively, as it were, around the altar of pleasure, power, or fame, desperately seeking a satisfaction that will never come.

It's hard to wrap our modern minds around the idol worship so prevalent in the Bible. We have been assured time and time again that anything that displaces Jesus Christ and His gospel can serve as an idol and that is what is being condemned.

However, it's hard to consider our seeking career advancement, material pleasures, travel, or some such an "idol" though it is.

Continue reading at the original source →