CARDINAL RATZINGER: Giving can never mean primarily
giving money, that goes without saying. Of course money is also often
most necessary. But when money is the only thing that is given, that is
often hurtful for the other person. I have seen that again and again in
the Third World. If you send us nothing but money, people tell me, then
you often do more harm than good. Money is very easily misused in some
way and then makes things worse. You must give more than this. You
must come yourselves; you must give of yourselves; and you must help, so
that the material gifts you bring are used appropriately, so that they
are not just something you pull out of a bag in order to buy your way
out of the difficulty we represent, the problem we are for you.
As long as we only send money or know-how, we are giving too
little. In that sense the missionaries were an example for us, by
giving people God, by making love believable for them; their gift to
people was a new way of life; they gave themselves wholly and entirely,
going out not just for two or three years as an interesting experience,
but for their lifetime, so as to belong to those people for always.
Unless we can relearn this capacity for self-giving, those other gifts
will be too little.
What we have said about things on a world scale is of course
equally true concerning individuals. There is a lovely story told by
Rilke. The poet tells how, in Paris, he used always to pass a woman
into whose hat someone had thrown a coin. The beggar woman was always
quite unmoved by this, as if she had no feelings at all. One day, Rilke
gives her a rose. And in that moment her face glows. He sees for the
first time that she does have feelings. She smiles, and then for a week
she is no longer there begging, because someone has given her something
that is more than money.
I think that is such a lovely little incident, in which you can see
that sometimes a rose, a little act of giving, of affection, of
acceptance of the other person, can be more than many coins or other
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger "God and the World" (Ignatius Press, 2002)
Cardinal Ratzinger is now Pope Benedict XVI
My brother Rev. Tim Uhen sent this to me saying, "It reminds me of the people
I hear about and run into here who go down to Piura."
An invitation to Serve and Share your Faith