Chapter Nine: Finance; September 25
So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets,
as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others.
Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy,
do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
so that your giving may be in secret.
Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
|If You Have a Heart, Can People See It?|
The Executive Director was thankful. The non-profit orchestra manager wanted to thank the donor for his eight-figure donation. The most obvious “thankyou” writ large for a long time to come would have been naming rights for the pavilion. It would be big, easy and grateful. The Donor’s name, all caps, in lights on high.
The donor was aghast. “Never,” he said. It would have been a bark if delivered by anyone else. The gentleman had impeccable old-world manners and taste. He was modest as befitted his bespoke station.
This is not a modern invention but an application of Scripture and, shall we say, Natural Law.
It is often attributed to Thucydides, the ancient Athenian historian, “Of all manifestations of power, restraint impresses men most.” Powell, Colin; Koltz, Tony (2012-05-22). It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership (Kindle Location 2728). Harper. Kindle Edition.
Andrew Abela, Provost ofThe Catholic University of America and founding Dean of the School of Business and Economics (full disclosure: my boss) writes of financial management. He quotes II Corinthians 8:9, For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich, and its application, from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2407 (578),
In economic matters, respect for human dignity requires the practice of the virtue of temperance, to moderate our attachment to the goods of this world; of the virtue of justice, to preserve our neighbor’s rights and to render what is his or her due; and of solidarity, following the golden rule and in keeping with the generosity of the Lord…A Catechism for Business: Tough Ethical Questions and Insights from Catholic Teaching, edited by Andrew V. Abela and Joseph E. Capizzi, The Catholic University of America Press, Washington, DC. Page 40
Rabbi Daniel Lapin gives us a blood-money analogy,
In Judaism we’re not allowed to eat blood…think about it. There’s a real problem if you see blood. Anytime you actually see it, something’s wrong. It’s not a good thing.
When you see money, when it’s too evident, that suggests the love of money…so money should do its work behind the scenes, as it were, the way blood does its work behind the scenes.
Money is not the root of all evil. Money is not the problem—
Evil is the love of money.
Author Joseph Heller was an Army Air Corps B-25 bombardier in World War II. He flew 60 combat missions and died in 1999 and sold over 10 million books. He wrote of blood and came to know wealth.
He knew — enough.
John C. Bogle writes in his book Enough: True Measures of Money, Business, and Life about material satisfaction and community. He would know. He is the founder of the mutual fund company, The Vanguard Group. He points us to a vignette by Kurt Vonnegut. Bogle writes, “It’s delightful…it’s only 92 words long.” It was about the novelist Joseph Heller, published in the New Yorker magazine in 2005.
True story, Word of Honor:
Joseph Heller, an important and funny writer
and I were at a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island.
I said,“Joe, how does it make you feel
to know that our host only yesterday
may have made more money
than your novel ‘Catch-22’
has earned in its entire history?”
And Joe said,“I’ve got something he can never have.”
And I said,“What on earth could that be, Joe?”
And Joe said,“The knowledge that I’ve got enough.”
Not bad! Rest in Peace! Bogle, John C. (2008-11-13). Enough: True Measures of Money, Business, and Life (p. 244). Wiley. Kindle Edition.
Joseph Heller had enough money and didn’t need to make a public display of affectation.*
Throughout his life, John Bogle had heart challenges and would eventually need a new blood-pump. He got a heart transplant and recovered well.
The organ donor was anonymous.
So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:2-4
* “Frankly, I think the whole society is nuts — and the question is: What does a sane man do in an insane society?” says Joseph Heller.