“We are called to deprive ourselves of essential things, not only the superfluous”

I love this passage from Pope Francis’s Angelus address in St. Peter’s Square yesterday:

Today Jesus also tells us that the measurement is not the quantity but the fullness. There is a difference. It is not a question of the wallet, but of the heart. There are heart diseases that lower the heart to the portfolio. To love God “with all your heart” means to trust Him, to trust in His providence, and to serve him in the poorest brothers and sisters without expecting anything in return. Faced with the needs of others, we are called to deprive ourselves of essential things, not only the superfluous; we are called to give the necessary time, not only what remains extra; we are called to give immediately and unconditionally some of our talent, not after using it for our own purposes or our own group.

Allow me to tell you a story that happened in my previous diocese. It is about a mother with her three children.  The father was at work and the family was at table eating veal cutlets alla Milanese.  Just then someone knocked at the door and one of the children – the young one who was five or six years old – the oldest was seven years old – came and said, “Mom, there’s a beggar at the door who is asking for some food.”  And the mother, a good Christian, said, “What should we do?”

“Give him some food,” they said.

“Ok.” She took the fork and knife and cut each person’s cutlet in half.

“Oh no, Mom! Not like this! Take something from the refrigerator!”

“No, we will make three sandwiches like this!”

And thus the children learned that the meaning of true charity means that you give not from what is left over but from what we need. I am certain that that afternoon they were a bit hungry, but this is the way to do it.

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