Do you want a larger heart and a cure for the dangers of consumerism? Try being more generous to the poor.
That was the advice of Pope Francis during his November 26, 2018, homily at Mass in Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican. The homily was reported by Vatican News.
“It’s a terrible disease nowadays, consumerism,” the Holy Father said. “I’m not saying all of us do it, no. But consumerism – excessive spending to buy more than we need – is a lack of austerity in life. This is the enemy of generosity. And material generosity – thinking about the poor: ‘I can give this so that they can eat or have clothes’ – has an ulterior result: It enlarges the heart and helps us be magnanimous.”
The Pope pointed out that in the gospel, Jesus often contrasts the rich and the poor. For example, in his comments to the rich young man in the 19 chapter of Matthew, he says is hard for one who is rich to enter heaven.
In fact, Francis said some people might call Jesus a “communist.” But he made the comments about the rich and poor because he knew that riches draw people into the spirit of the world. But generosity can turn the Christian in the right direction. The Holy Father explained:
“An appeal to generosity. Generosity belongs to everyday life; it’s something we should think: ‘How can I be more generous, with the poor, the needy… How can I help more?’ ‘But Father, you know that we can barely get through the month.’ ‘But surely you have at least a couple of coins left over? Think about it: you can be generous with those…’ Consider the little things. For example, look through your room or your wardrobe. How many pairs of shoes do I have? One, two, three, four, fifteen, twenty… Each of us knows. Maybe too many… I knew a monsignor who had 40… But if you have many pairs of shoes, give away half. How many clothes do I not use or use only once a year? This is one way to be generous, to give what we have, and to share.”
Pope Francis gave the example of a woman he met. When she went grocery shopping, she spent 10 percent of what she bought on food for the poor. He said she gave her “tithe” to the poor.
“We can do miracles through generosity,” Francis said. “Generosity in little things. Maybe we don’t do it because we just don’t think about it.
“The Gospel message makes us reflect: How can I be more generous? Just a little more, not much… ‘It’s true, Father, you’re right but… I don’t know why, but I’m always afraid…’ But nowadays there is another disease, which works against generosity: The disease of consumerism.”
Finally, the Holy Father invited us to be generous and to start by inspecting our houses to discover “what we don’t need and could be useful for someone else.”