Prosperity and Trust

Posted January 30, 2009

St. Alphonsus Liguori was known for his unconventional statements. He once remarked, “In building, we need not act as worldly people do. They first procure money, and then proceed to build. But we do the opposite. We begin to build and then as we go along we trust divine Providence to provide what is necessary.” Of course, anyone who uses that approach without having a trust in God that is exceptional and rock solid will soon become bankrupt.

 St. Frances Xavier Cabrini once remarked, “I have started community houses with no more than prayer and the price of a loaf of bread, for with him who comforts and supports me, I can do anything.” Her astonishing outreach in helping the poor is regarded today as legendary, as was her trust in the Lord.

 If we have little, we can trust God to prosper us, as long as our basic desire is to help others. In effect, this is the basic principle of stewardship, which Paul explains in 2 Corinthians 9:6-10, namely, God will give you much so that you can give away much: The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. As it is written, “He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us. (emphasis mine)

A common misquotation from Scripture states that “money is the root of all evil.” Paul does not say that money is the root of all evil, but rather that “love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Tm 6: 10, emphasis mine). Love of money is the sin of avarice. The opposite is the virtue of generosity. “How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?” (1 Jn 3:17). By trusting God, you can afford to be generous. Trusting him to supply your needs in order to supply others’ needs is simply trusting him to trust you as his emissary to share his wealth. 

Fr. John Hampsch, “Pathways of Trust”