The sinner shall borrow, and not pay again: but the just sheweth
mercy, and shall give.
(Ps. xxxvi. 21)
The sinner receives, but he does not return. What does he not return?
He does not return thanks. What does God wish of you, or what does God
demand of you, save what is for your good? And how great the favours the
sinner receives, for which he does not pay? He receives existence, that
he is a man, and that between him and the beast there is a great difference.
He has received a bodily nature, and he has received with his body a variety
of senses; eyes to see, ears to hear, nostrils to smell, a palate to taste,
hands to touch, feet to walk, and also health of body. So far gifts such
as these we have in common with the beasts. But man has received more;
that is a mind that can understand, that can grasp truth, that can tell
what is just from what is unjust, that has power to search for, to long
for his Creator, to praise Him and to hold fast to Him. All this the sinner
also receives, but not living justly he does not repay as he should. Therefore,
the sinner shall borrow, and not pay again; he shall not repay Him,
from Whom he received, nor give thanks; rather, for good he returns evil,
and blasphemies, murmuring against God, contempt.
Therefore, he, the sinner, shall borrow and not pay again; but the
just sheweth mercy, and shall give. The one because he has nothing;
the other because he has. Here is poverty; here riches. The one receives,
and will not repay. The other shows mercy, lends and is made rich. What
if a man is poor? Even so he is rich. Look at His riches with eyes of faith
only. For you look only at an empty purse; not at a conscience filled with
God. Outwardly he has nothing, but within he has charity. How much can
one give from charity, and not exhaust it! Even if a man is outwardly rich,
it is still charity that gives, from what it possesses. And if outwardly
it has nothing to give, it gives kindness, it offers counsel, if it can;
it offers help, if it can. And if it can help neither by counsel nor with
money, it helps in desire, or prays for the one in affliction, and perhaps
for this it is heeded more than one who gives bread.
He has ever something to give whose breast is filled with charity. And
that is charity which men also call good will. God asks no more of you,
than He has placed within your heart. For a good will is never without
something. And when you have no good will, you will give nothing to the
poor of that of which you have no need. The poor help each other out of
good will; and they are not without fruit, one from the other. You see
a blind man led by one who sees; who since he has no money to give to the
poor, lends his eyes to the man who has none. How could this happen, that
he should lend his own members to one who was without them, unless lie
had that good will which is the treasure of the poor? That treasure in
which there is most soothing peace, and true security. No thief is admitted,
to the loss of this, no shipwreck feared. It preserves with itself what
it holds within; bereft of all things, it is still full. The just man,
therefore, showeth mercy and shall give.
Let us give thanks to our Lord and Saviour, Who without any previous
merits of ours has healed our wounds, made us His friends who were His
enemies, redeemed us from captivity, led us from darkness into light and
recalled us from death to life; and humbly confessing our own infirmity,
we implore His mercy, so that with mercy guiding us, He Who has deigned
to give us His gifts and graces may also deign to safeguard and increase
them, Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth world
without end. Amen.