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Where does Charity End?

Saxon

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My parish is located in a relatively deprived neighbourhood, with many low-income apartment and townhouse complexes. Residents show up at church on weekends and request assistance, which we advertise as available upon request.

Now, I’m all for doing anything we can to help people who have fallen on hard times, who have mental health issues, or addicts who realize they have a problem and who want to turn their lives around. I don’t, however, have any patience for “welfare as a way of life” types who are looking for a free ride and always seem to have money for alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana, tattoos, etc. And that seems to be the majority of what is coming around looking for handouts.

We don’t provide monetary assistance. Instead, we will give food, clothing, toiletries, bus and taxi vouchers, etc. Many of these people angrily and profanely turn down that assistance, demand money, and become hostile when told no. One is a family of Bosnian Muslim Gypsies who used to get assistance from a mosque about a block away, until the imam told them they were taking abusing the charity being offered from the attendants.

Someone vandalized some garbage containers outside our church recently (secure ones that are going to cost hundreds to replace)  and I strongly suspect it was one of these individuals. I have to ask, then, that as what point does becoming fed up with these people become un-Christian? Even if the charity and handouts we’re giving are being misused or abused, do we have an obligation to keep providing it? To put it plainly, what would Jesus do?

 

isxodnik

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that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. Mat. 5:45

This is the ideal to which we are called. On the way to it, we can go through different stages.
 

Luke

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A few months ago, somebody we know saw someone with a  sign which read something similar to, "Will work for cheeseburgers."  The person we know went and bought a cheeseburger and tried to give it to him.  The sign holder did not want it. :eek:
 

Brilko

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On the one hand “Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back.” On the other hand “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.”

I can’t work and I absolutely hate it. I fought, scrabbled, and clawed to continue working for as long as I could. My bias is very strong against those who can work but won’t. I find coddling the lazy to be bad for society and bad for the lazy.

The lazy steal from the truly needy. I know some lazy people who clear out food banks. Nobody stops them. Nobody limits how much they can take. Then other people go down and find the food bank empty. “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing that is good, that he may have whereof to give to him that hath need.”
 

Arachne

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The short answer to WWJD is Luke 6:30.

With that out of the way, a bit of food for thought:

A lot of those people have not fallen on hard times. They have always been in hard times (which seem to be growing harder recently) and the 'vices' you see them spend their money on are the only ways they know that can, for a while, numb the misery they see no way out of.

You may surprised to learn that many people can't afford to get a job - because what they'd make would not be enough for suitable clothes, or transport, or childcare, or any and all of the above. (It happens further up the economic scale as well; I know more than one couple that have to live on a single salary, a modestly comfortable one, because if the other spouse went to work, the combined income would push them into a higher tax bracket and they'd end up bringing home less than before.)

There's a little anecdote that pops up on social media from time to time, with a few slight variations, but the gist is: son asks his father why he keeps giving beggars money, when he knows they'll spend it on drugs or booze. The father's answer is, 'If they misuse what I give them, that says something about their character. If I have the means to help them and refuse to do so, that says something about mine.'

Keep offering your non-monetary assistance to anyone who asks. If they don't take it, that's on them.
 

Ainnir

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38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.
Matthew 5:38-42

Easy to say, hard to do.  I'm not personally at a place where I can practice this perfectly.  I think the "wise as serpents, gentle as doves" verse might have some application here, too.  I'm sorry your parish is dealing with hostility.  :(
 

Deacon Lance

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JOHN THE MERCIFUL - NOVEMBER 12
“He was surnamed the Merciful, after his Master Christ, who is the source of all mercy. He could not encounter a poor or afflicted person without shedding tears and without taking his sorrow upon himself. Drawing upon the treasure of the Church, he gave without calculation. As Christ has taught us (Luke 6:35), he made no distinction in his giving between the good and the bad, the deserving and the undeserving. On one occasion, a poor man, who had already received alms, presented himself three times more to the Saint in three different disguises. When this was pointed out to John, he ordered them to give the man twice as much, saying, ‘Maybe he is Jesus my Saviour who has come on purpose to put me to the test.” 
- Synaxarion for November 12

 

augustin717

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I’ve always given cigarettes or a beer to homeless people if they asked. I mean, they don’t get that many entertainments, so why deprive them of the  leaf and very few of them?
I also happen to think charity is disgusting .
 

mcarmichael

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Luke said:
A few months ago, somebody we know saw someone with a  sign which read something similar to, "Will work for cheeseburgers."  The person we know went and bought a cheeseburger and tried to give it to him.  The sign holder did not want it. :eek:
Very interesting. Presumably they also were unwilling to work for said cheeseburger? Because some people are very particular about accepting charity. Not all, some.

Great idea for someone with cardboard and a sharpie though: "Will work for money."
 

Deacon Lance

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Discretion in almsgiving is counseled in the Apostolic Constitutions: "Alms must not be given to the malicious, the intemperate, or the lazy; lest a premium should be set on vice" (Const. Apost., ii, 1-63; iii, 4-6).

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01328f.htm
 

Alpha60

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I believe in providing monetary assistance, non-monetary assistance and assistance in the form of work to anyone who I can help.  There was a dark time in my life of several months when both my parents were severely ill, when, due to medical costs et cetera, I could not have kept my family together were it not for the generosity of friends.
 

Thetruthisgod

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I like how the King James uses the word "charity"

"though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing."

What does this tell me? It is not enough to give material things to the poor, and to live purely. These things are good, yes, but real charity requires that one spend more time with the person that is being helped. Even if we tell the truth, and point to a better way, without having a real loving relationship, it is all just noise that gets drowned out.

People these days are weak in faith, both inside and outside the church. To be healed, someone needs to have the faith to put the faith into practice. Sick people tend to be sick in such a way that perpetuates the sickness. Someone who is deceived by definition does not know they are deceived. A real missionary God uses to snap people out of hypnosis and lead them to repentance. That often times involves telling the truth that is unbearable to hear. If someone doesn't respect you, how much more unbearable! Charity shows respect to the one who is sick.
 

IXOYE

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There's a little anecdote that pops up on social media from time to time, with a few slight variations, but the gist is: son asks his father why he keeps giving beggars money, when he knows they'll spend it on drugs or booze. The father's answer is, 'If they misuse what I give them, that says something about their character. If I have the means to help them and refuse to do so, that says something about mine.'
That is interesting. Have not seen that before.

Keep offering your non-monetary assistance to anyone who asks. If they don't take it, that's on them.
Problem is usually they request or will only take money.
 

Arachne

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Problem is usually they request or will only take money.
Their problem, not yours (or of the community in the OP). People are allowed to reject help too.
 

TheTrisagion

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I think we oft times think of charity as giving material possessions to someone in need, but that is a rather limited view of charity. Charity requires a good deal of discernment. We need to figure out what someone actually needs, and then work to provide it to them. Heaping cash on someone is often more destructive than helpful. Perhaps providing affordable lodging, job training, education, etc would be more charitable in todays society.
 

Ainnir

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I've failed in this department a good bit recently.
 
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