All the goods of the world belong to all the people of the earth so that everyone may live in dignity and freedom as a human being – enjoying nutritious food, dwelling in adequate shelter, wearing proper clothing, possessing sufficient wherewithal to prosper in life; able to work, having access to health care, education and leisure, raising a family, able to develop as a human being in relationships with others. For example, water should not be regarded as a commodity for profit in the market place. Rather it should be seen that all people have a right to clean water. Likewise it is not just that there be extreme separation of some who live in opulent splendor from others who barely exist in dire poverty. The Catholic Church in her social teaching refers to this equity in possession of the world’s goods for the benefit of all members of the human family as the “universal destination of goods.”

At the same time the Church respects the right of personal ownership and of private property. It is not an absolute right but one that is relative to the common good for all people. It is a matter of proper balance and alignment. When the common good is maintained, the individual is able to flourish. That is why the government has the right to tax the wealth of people in order to care for the poor, vulnerable, sick, elderly, disabled and others who are not able to care properly for themselves.

All the goods of the earth – what we might refer to as riches of the earth and property – are a gift from God to be acknowledged as such and enjoyed. However those who love personal wealth for its own sake will never be satisfied. Neither will those who are greedy, covetous or corrupt. They misuse or abuse what has been given into their care by God for the care of the earth and the human family.

Money and possessions are to be used to provide for those entrusted to our care and to help those in need. We are called to be responsible in the use of the world’s goods and generous.

I personally think that the harshest judgment on the last day will be for those who do nothing to help the poor and hungry in the world to live a decent life. As Jesus says in Matthew 25:45 “What you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.”

God loves a cheerful giver.

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