Giving Alms: Conducting Our Business Faithfully

Pentecost 19 Wednesday

Luke 16:19-20

“There was a rich man who clothed himself in purple and fine linen and lived every day gloriously and in joy. But a poor man named Lazarus laid at his door covered with sores.”

The Lord tells us the example of the rich man so that we might learn from it and beware of such sins and judgment, lest we be secure, as if there were no other life besides this temporal one here on earth. Accordingly, we would let the poor in particular be commended to our care. For if God has given you the means enabling you to help the poor but you do not do it, then seeing the poor, whom you have despised and whom you have not helped, live in joy will cause you excruciating pain and torment on the Last Day and in eternity, just as happened here to the rich man in relation to Lazarus. Contrariwise, if you have served, done good, and helped many, you will rejoice in that life when you see the poor live in eternal joy…Therefore, let us not forget the poor, Galatians 2:10, and help and give them gladly, not only with common alms by giving them some money according to our ability and their need; for such help we always owe the poor. But then there is yet another kind of alms whereby everyone can serve and help his neighbor in his station in life and vocation every day and every hour: Let each carry out his business, trade, and profession so as to not overcharge anyone or deceive anyone with fraudulent goods; instead, be content with a modest profit, and pay what others are due; use proper measures and weights; do not seek the kind of advantage in selling or buying that would be the others’ disadvantage. For everyone sees what a breach of trust looks like in business. Yet if you conduct your business faithfully, then you give alms–even if you do not give anything for free and make a modest profit. Yet those who sell their goods while taking advantage of their neighbor and seeking only their own profit are genuine pickpockets…No transaction is too small and insignificant that it would not be alms, if you sell honest goods for honest pay. Contrariwise, if you take advantage of people, or do not pay them well, it is theft and you are a thief before God. On the Last Day, you will see poor Lazarus before you from whom you withheld such alms in your business transactions while you also robbed him by your greed and took what was his–just as happened to the rich man, as you hear here. In this way, everyone could turn his business, no matter how big or small, into true, God-pleasing alms. Not only temporal blessings would certainly follow, but, as Christ says, we would also make friends here on earth with the unjust mammon, whose testimony we would have and enjoy in eternal life, Luke 16:9.

St. Louis ed., 13.1:703-704.

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