Friends, Jesus concludes today’s Gospel by prescribing giving alms as a key to holiness. I’ve quoted to you before some of the breathtaking remarks of saints and popes about almsgiving. Leo XIII says that once the demands of necessity and propriety have been met, the rest of your money belongs to the poor. John Chrysostom says, “The man who has two shirts in his closet, one belongs to him; the other belongs to the man who has no shirt.”
The deepest root of all of this is in the prophets, who continually rail against those who are indifferent to the poor. The prophets teach us that compassion is key to biblical ethics, feeling the pain of others in our own hearts. We’re not dealing with an abstract Aristotelian moral philosophy, but rather with something more visceral.
This is precisely why the two great commandments are so tightly linked: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart . . . and love your neighbor as yourself.” In loving God you feel the feelings of God, and God is compassionate to the poor and oppressed. That’s all the argument that a biblical person needs.