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Dear Father Angelo,

I am writing to ask you the following question about charity (as  I am reminded of the wonderful Saint Paul’s Hymn of Charity).  Today I did  a charitable act  (after making a good confession) towards  a needy person who hugged me while crying and thanking me. I am not  going to talk to anyone about it except via email with you because some questions have arisen due to some considerations I have made.  We should not ‘declare’ the charitable acts we do , because, as Jesus says, “who did this, already received his reward”.

As soon as I got  home, I opened the Bible.. and the passages that I found did not have anything to do  with the  charitable act (which was very simple, however) I did (I suppose).   Indeed, I happened to read some severe passages by Jeremiah as well as  some Psalms…  which were undoubtedly very severe and aggressive. Hence my questions are:  Did God appreciate what I did? Should  I not have read any biblical  passages?  And in case I did the right thing,  why did it happen to me to read such tough passages then? 

I thank You for Your answer and I entrust you to the Virgin Mary


The Priest’s reply 

Dear Stefania,

1. As you might already know, the Church advises against opening the Bible randomly in order  to look for an answer from God, because it is like tempting God; it is like expecting Him to give us a reply in the way we decided to receive it.

2. St. Thomas Aquinas said that one  can tempt God “by implication (interpretative [way]) when, even he does not intend to put God to the test, he nonetheless asks for something, or does something, that is useful for nothing other than testing God’s power or goodness or knowledge” (Summa Theologiae,  II-II, 97,1).

 You  wanted to know what God’s thinking was about it.  So,  you took the easy way out  that may be useful under certain circumstances  because it may happen to us too to find ourselves in a difficult situation where we say like  the Jewishs in the Old Testament: “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (2 Chronicles 20:12).

But in your case, taking the easy way out was  “without any necessity  or  usefulness”, as St. Thomas Aquinas would say (Ib.).

That is why you found some passages  that had nothing to do with what you were asking for.

3. Maybe you were looking for some consoling words. But also in that case, you were not acting fairly,  because you were looking for your reward as  the Lord said “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing”. (Mt 6:3)

4. Knowing that you had made the Lord happy without receiving any feedback  would have given you a much greater peace. In fact, after doing that charitable act, this  would have helped you to do  another one, this time to the Lord Himself, because you wanted nothing from Him but to make Him happy. 

5. I must also add that since opening the Bible at random in order to seek God’s answer is like tempting Him, as the Church,  we might also expect that in the passage we find,  our enemy may be hidden, as the Lord reminds us through  St. Paul’s words: “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Cor 11:14).

6. I thank you for asking me this question, because many people usually do what you did  and instead of being comforted, they only get upset.

I wish you all the best,  I remind you to the Lord and I bless you.

Father Angelo

Translated by Jolanda Beraldi