Epistle of Saint Paulinus

II Corinthians 8:9-15

Brethren, Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that being rich He became poor for your sakes; that through His poverty ye might be rich. And herein, I give my counsel: for this is profitable for you, who have begun not only to do, but also to be willing, a year ago; now therefore perform it also in deed: that as your mind is forward to be willing, so it may be also to perform, out of that which ye have. For if the will be forward, to be willing, so it may be also to perform, out of that which ye have. For if the will be forward, it is accepted according to that which a man hath, not according to which he hath not. For I mean not that others should be eased, and you burdened, but by an equality. In this present time let your abundance supply their want, that their abundance also may supply your want; that there may be an equality, as it is written: He that hath much had nothing over; and he that had little had no want.


Verse 10. Begun not only to do, but also to be willing. The sense seems to be, that they not only began the last year to do it, to contribute, but that they were the first that had this will, and began it of their own accord, by a motion of their own will. And therefore in the next chap. (v. 2.) he boasted of their ready mind to the Macedonians, and that their zeal or emulation had incited a great many. Wi.

Verse 12-13. He tells them that it is the will that chiefly makes their charity acceptable to God, who sees the heart. And that the design is not to make others live at their ease, in a richer condition than those who give, but to make a kind of equality, their brethren in Judea being now in great poverty and want. Wi. — God regards two things in our alms: first, the zeal and good-will with which we give our alms; secondly, the greatness of our charities, that is, if they be proportionate to our means. If you have little, give a little, but with good-will; if you have much, give also much, but with equal benevolence and zeal. God measures the extent of our charity by the greatness of our zeal, not requiring of us what we have not, but what we have to spare, relieving others, without overcharging ourselves. V. — Yielding our superfluities, that the poor may not want necessaries. Menochius.

Verse 14. This present time, let your abundance, &c. The sense, according to some interpreters is, that the time may perhaps come, when they in Judea may supply the wants of those in Achaia in the same kind. Others rather understand it of a communication of spiritual for temporal goods, that your alms, by the assistance of those who will pray for you, and your charities, may obtain for you the spiritual riches of grace, which every one stands chiefly in need of. Wi.

Verse 15. He that had much, &c. The words were spoken of those who gathered the manna. Exod. xvi. 18. Every one was there ordered to gather such a particular measure, called a gomer, and they who for fear of wanting, gathered more, found they had no more than the measure they were ordered to take, and they, who as it happened, took less, still found they had their measure of a gomer. By this example, S. Paul exhorts them to contribute to the relief of their brethren, with confidence in God’s providence, and without fear of wanting themselves. Wi.


1852: Socialism

LEO XIII 1878-1903
From the Encyclical,
"Quod Apostolici muneris,"
Dec. 28, 1878

And yet she does not on this account neglect the care of the poor, or, as a devoted mother, fail to take thought for their necessities; but rather, embracing them with maternal affection, and realizing well that they represent the person of Christ Himself, who considers as done to Himself whatever benefit is conferred by anyone on the least of the poor, holds them in great honor; she relieves them by every resource possible; she has erected everywhere in the world homes and hospices to receive them, and to nourish and to care for them, and she takes these institutions under her loving care. By most urgent precept she commands the rich to distribute their superfluous possessions among the poor, and terrifies them by the divine judgment, whereby, unless they go to the aid of the needy poor, they are to be tormented by everlasting punishments. Finally, she especially refreshes and consoles the souls of the poor either by presenting the example of Christ who, “although he was rich, became poor for our sakes” [cf. 2 Cor. 8:9], or by recalling the words, by which He addressed the poor as “blessed” [cf. Matt. 5:3], and bade them hope for the rewards of eternal blessedness.

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