The Lord himself has told us in what the perfection of charity consists: ‘Greater love has no man, than to give his life for his friends’. But how can one attain to that level of love?
Well, now we know where its perfection lies, let us see where it begins. St John says if a man is rich, and sees his brother in need and hardens his heart, the love of God is not in him. That is where charity begins. If you can’t as yet lay down your life for your brother, at least give him some of your goods – not to show off but from overflowing mercy.
He, your brother, was redeemed as you were by the blood of Christ: he is hungry, in need, perhaps pressed by a creditor and you have plenty of this world’s goods. You say ‘That’s no affair of mine. Am I expected to rescue him from distress with my money?’
If that is your attitude, your heart is empty of God’s love, you are not a child of God.
Your glory in being a Christian – yes, that is what you are called but not what your deeds answer to. If you don’t live like a Christian, what is the point of being called one?
The Heart at Rest – Daily Readings with Saint Augustine – edited by Dame Maura See OSB