Today we honour the memory of Saint Antony of Padua: a Canon Regular who became a Franciscan Friar after being inspired by the stories of Franciscan martyrdoms in North Africa. He ministered in Morocco for a short time but had to return home due to ill health. Antony spent the remainder of his short life in Italy where he established a reputation as a preacher and theologian. Saint Antony gave his heart and soul to the God who invites us all to serve him in simplicity and surrender. He died in Padua in 1231 at the age of 36.
James Thomson, the 18th century author, wrote that famous line: “A penny saved is a penny got”. You might guess correctly that Thomson was a Scotsman! Another way of looking at the matter says that a penny spent is a penny used. In other words, the purpose of money is found not in hoarding it but in using it to purchase something you want or need.
Faith is a precious gift from God and like money it is not to be hoarded. It is to be shared with others. This is what Our Lord had in mind when he tells us that we are the salt of the earth and light to the world. Salt is useless and doesn’t fulfil its purpose until it enhances the flavour of food, and a lamp is meaningless until it is lit and enlightens the darkness.
Some people believe that they must spread the Good News by going from door to door and confronting people. Some of us may have had experience with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. They are certainly zealous but often they alienate people by their tactics.
Our Lord had a better way. He tells us that our light must shine before the people with whom we share our lives so that they may see goodness in our deeds and give praise to our heavenly Father. It’s the old and well-tested truth that actions speak much louder than words.
Sharing our own goodness is helpful to both others and to ourselves. When we spend our money it is used up. But when we spend and spread our faith through goodness, we don’t have less faith and goodness: we actually have more because both faith and goodness grow in the sharing of it.