“treasure in heaven”
18 Iunie 2015 Lasă un comentariu
For Christian bishops such as Augustine to preach in favor of giving alms to the poor was to do far more than stir the wealthy to occasional acts of charity and compassion. It was to undermine the traditional model of society that had directed their giving habits up to this time. Civic notables were challenged to abandon the notion of citizen entitlement. They were urged to look beyond their fellow citizens and to switch their giving toward the gray immensity of poverty in their city and in the countryside around them.
Altogether, to accept Christian preaching was to make a major shift in one’s image of society. In terms of the social imagination, it involved nothing less than moving from a closed universe to an open one. We begin, in the classical world, with a honeycomb of little cities, in each of which the rich thought of nurturing only their fellow citizens, with little regard to whether any of them were poor. We end, in Christian times, with an open universe, where society as a whole—in town and countryside alike—was seen to be ruled, as if by a universal law of gravity, by a single, bleak division between rich and poor. The duty of the Christian preacher was to urge the rich no longer to spend their money on their beloved, well-known city, but to lose it, almost heedlessly, in the faceless mass of the poor. Only that utterly counterfactual gesture—a gesture that owed nothing to the claims of one’s hometown or of one’s fellow citizens—would earn the rich “treasure in heaven.”