His Grace, Bishop JOSEPH’s address to the Annual Dinner of the Southern California Chapter of the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch
October 30, 2005
Studio City, California
The Right Reverend, Very Reverend and Reverend Fathers, Reverend Deacons, Esteemed Members of the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ladies and Gentleman:
“You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.” (2 Cor. 8: 9)
Being a cosmopolitan city, the city of Corinth was similar in many ways to Southern California in its secular lifestyle. Saint Paul wrote two letters to Church of Corinth which he established to address its spiritual needs, and especially the issue of giving. He asked the Corinthians to give as much as they are willing and able to give, but he did not want them to feel that they were acting under compulsion, and thus come to be resentful.
He knew that imitation was a powerful incentive to them. He gave them the example of Christ, who is the Lord of all wealth, and in whom dwells all the richness, yet, He chose to become poor. He chose both a poor mother, from whom He was born, and a poor homeland, about which it is said, “And you, Bethlehem, you are the least among the tribes of Judah.” Taking on the form of a servant, nothing was diminished in Him. He became poor in the flesh; nonetheless, yet He remained rich in his divinity.
Christ became poor, not for his sake but for ours. The same way, you give bountifully not only for the benefit of the Church, but also for your own benefit. If you are attached to our earthly possessions or perishable wealth, the mind sinks down as into mire, and the soul becomes blind to God.
Christ asks us to detach ourselves from the bonds of this material and transient life, so that we may render ourselves more fit to set out upon the road leading to God. Giving is productive of great spiritual wealth.
The Order of Saint Ignatius should be a group of people who are transforming their human hearts to a heavenly mode of life. Remember your nature—that you came into the world naked and naked will leave it again. What is more destitute than a naked man? A person ought not to keep more than he needs for himself.
Your giving is not measured by its amount, but by the goodwill by which it was offered. A good will alone suffices for readiness for the kingdom. The Lord pays no attention to the amount of our money we give, but to the expression of faith.
It is not money, but rather your intention that prevailed. The kingdom is not bought with money, but rather with a good intention. When you give to others, you give to yourselves a free gift.
The treasure in one’s heart is the intention of the thought. Christ looks into the wealth of your souls. You have been entrusted with the administration and use of temporal wealth for the common good of the Church.
So let us give back to the Lord the gifts he has given us. Let us give gladly, and great joy will be ours.