Given from the Catholic Broadcasting Station 2SM Sydney Australia
Choose a topic from Vol 2:
We might say that there is no "supernatural" charity without a supernatural motive. The word "charity" comes from the Latin word "carus" which means "dear;" and not primarily in the "moonlight" sense of the word, but rather as "expensive," something for which I am willing to sacrifice quite a lot. Now it is possible to do good to others at one's own expense without a supernatural motive. But such natural kindness has no supernatural value. St. Paul rightly says, "If I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." 1 Cor. XIII., 3. It is obvious that he here intends supernatural charity, prompted by the love of God. Mere kindness to human beings, whether for the love of those human beings, or for the sake of self-esteem, is profitless; and in any case based upon the error that man and not God is an adequate motive for doing good. Such kindness, therefore, should not be called "charity," but rather "philanthropy," which means love of man for humanity's sake; or "humanitarianism," the cult of humanity.
The edification given by a personal life of virtue, and the avoiding of the scandal that leads others into sin.
There is no real conflict in the passages you mention, as we shall see. In St. Matt. VI., 1, we read, "Take heed that you do not your justice before men, to be seen by them." And our Lord adds that we should not let our left hand know what our right hand does. Our Lord is not there forbidding us to do good, even publicly. He is dealing with the question of motives. In the twenty-third chapter, verse 5, St. Matthew records our Lord's condemnation of the Pharisees because "all their works they do," He said, "in order to be seen by men." Some people do good almost entirely in order to secure praise from their fellow men, not with any idea of fulfilling a duty to God, nor really with any true desire to benefit their neighbors. They hope to benefit self. Other people may be fairly indifferent to praise from others, but find self-satisfaction in telling themselves how wonderful they are; and their motive is but vanity and pride. Our Lord condemns both attitudes, and forbids us to do good merely in order to impress our fellow men, or in order to feed our own vanity and self-esteem. But He does not forbid us to do good.
Here our Lord imposes the obligation to give edification to others. But again He insists on the same motive as in the former passage you quoted. Our intention must be that others may see our good works, but not us; and that they may glorify God, and not flatter us by their praise. Unless our conduct corresponds with our religious teaching, we will never win anyone to God. So our Lord had to insist on both precept and example. He says, "You are the light of the world." Matt. V., 14. Every Christian should be a living opposition to the darkness and spiritual blindness which are bred by evil conduct and the warping of conscience to suit the world's desires. So, too, our Lord tells us, "You are the salt of the earth." Matt. V., 13. Every Christian should be a preservative against the spread of moral corruption. And Jesus added, "If the salt lose its savor, it is good for nothing save to be cast out." If, by wrong teaching and advice, or by evil example, one corrupts others instead of preserving them, one is good for nothing before God and man. Such a one is cast away by God in the sense that the cure of so perverse a being is almost hopeless. In both the passages you quote, therefore, our Lord insists on good behavior, but with the one intention of fulfilling one's duty to God, banishing merely natural motives.