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Falsehood; Christian Charity

One of the most important defects of contemporary society is falsehood. It is made manifest in various forms, especially in the usual form of lying in general conversation and in the form of deceit in business life. It is extremely dangerous to view lightly this sin which is now encountered everywhere. It is considered quite usual to confirm something whether or not one knows it to be true; to say, "We will not be home" to avoid a guest or caller; to claim to be ill, while being healthy, etc. (to this we must add false "compliments," flattery, praise, etc.). People forget that falsehood is from the devil, of whom Christ the Savior said, "He is a liar and the father of lies." Thus, every liar is a co-worker and device of the devil. Already in the Old Testament we are told, "False lips are an abomination before the Lord..."

Especially dangerous are such types of falsehood as gossip and slander. Everyone knows what gossip is - a net of seduction and falsehood, woven by the devil, which entangles and darkens the good relationship of people among themselves. This gossip - the child of falsehood and empty headedness - has become the favorite attribute of almost all conversation. Still worse and more dire is slander, that is, a conscious falsehood against a person with the aim of harming him. This type of falsehood is singularly devilish, for the very word "devil" means "slander."

When our Lord Jesus Christ reproached the scribes and Pharisees, He usually called them hypocrites, by this indicating that dire form of falsehood - hypocrisy - with which these so called leaders of the people were filled. The Pharisees were outwardly pretended saints, but in their hearts and souls, they were malicious haters of truth and good. For this reason, the Lord likened them to finely finished coffins which are beautiful on the outside, but within are full of dead bones and corruption ... The vice of hypocrisy is wide spread even now in the form of pretending and desiring to seem to be what one is not - not to be, but to seem. A Christian strives, of course, not to seem, but to be good. This is not easy, and often passes almost unnoticed by anyone, except for the, All-seeing God. And many - especially among the youth - try to seem more clever, more beautiful, more gifted, more developed and more charitable than they are in reality From this, they obtain that mortal deceit and insincerity, which now so often destroys people and their happiness, which is clearly based on falsehood and not on truth.

We have already mentioned that the basis of a Christian's relationship with his neighbor is love - and thus, he strives to do good to and for them. One who does not do good is not a Christian. And this good, this love towards neighbors must definitely be expressed in works of mercy and good-will towards everyone. It is not without reason that the Savior commanded us to love not only those who love us, but also those who hate us. Moreover, in His conversation about the Dread Judgment, He clearly indicated what it is that will be asked of us first above all at the Judgment. Neither wealth, nor glory, nor education will have any significance there. The principle of the Dread Judgment will be the question, terrible and fateful for egoists and self-lovers: "How did you serve your neighbors?" Christ enumerates six particular forms of physical help. In His love, compassion, and mercy, He identifies Himself with every unfortunate person and with all those in need of help: "I was hungry and you fed Me; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was ill and you comforted Me; I was in prison and you visited Me." And St. John Chrysostom pointedly says, "This image of love is manifold and this command is wide." Indeed, the command concerning mercy encompasses the entirety of man's life, and many times the Lord revealed to His saints that deeds of mercy and compassion cover a person's heaviest sins.

Of course, Christian help is not exhausted by deeds of physical help. Equally, there is spiritual help - which is often immeasurably more important and valuable. Sometimes, for a despondent person, a simple word of sincere compassion, comfort and understanding are dearer than any material support. Who would argue against the fact that one cannot value, in terms of money, the service of saving a person by means of sincere compassion and gentle words from, for example, the vice of drunkenness or the sin of suicide. The Apostle James wrote concerning such precious spiritual help, "He who converts the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death (both the sinner's and his own) and will cover a multitude of sins" (Js. 5:20).

In concluding these words about the duty of charity to neighbors, let us view the difference between personal charity and social charity. Examples of the first are the giving of alms to a blind person or to a beggar, adopting poor orphans, etc. Examples of the second are founding charitable societies, societies to aid education, refuges for children, the ill or the aged, etc. Without a doubt, charity is a pre-eminent virtue as our Lord made clear in the Gospel. Such personal help can create a highly Christian relationship of participation, gratitude and mutual love. This kind of direct charity can, however, run into people who misuse it by constantly begging or employing deceit and dishonorableness.

This does not occur in a social charity which is not administered by chance, but is planned and organized, bringing many substantial benefits. Of course, in this form of charity, there are far fewer of those vital bonds of personal love and trust such as are formed in cases of personal help; but then, each person who gives a donation here, knows that he is participating in a vital, Christian way in something truly serious and valuable.

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