WHAT is this gift of charity? I stand before the
altar today, I spread out my hands as though to call down something from
the skies, and I ask for charity. In asking I say that unless I receive
it, I may seem to myself to be alive, but God will see that I am dead.
Am I dead, then, or am I alive in his eyes? Have I this gift?
Will God give it me? What is it, to begin with? Not only doing
the decent and helpful thing, for, says Christís apostle, I might go to
the extreme of visible generosity, I might give all my goods to feed the
poor, and yet lack charity. Still less is it mere tolerance and a
show of amiability. It means that a caring for God and my neighbour
becomes the stuff of my being, the mainspring of my will, not something
joined on from outside. God does not have love, he is love, and to
have love we also must become it. Why then, if to be alive I must
have love thus, it is plain enough that I am dead. Let me be dead;
I come to this sacrament to take part in the resurrection. I throw
myself into the hands of God, and God is known to be God by this token:
he raises the dead.