The other day, I heard a sermon promoting charity. Unfortunately, the example given was that of giving charity to a bunch of panhandlers in our area whom I know more about than the guy who gave the sermon. First off, they’re breaking the law by panhandling in our town or the neighboring town. So they stand by the side of the highway offramps until the police come by. Then they retreat to the nearby parking lots and leave in their cars (nice cars too). Sometimes they have a rota for the spots.
Even our local reporters have done some investigative work on the panhandlers. That one guy who always claims to need money to fix his car drives his nice car back and forth from downtown to the various malls and shopping centers, and makes thousands of dollars a month.
On the other hand, the homily was well-meant.
The contemporary biography of Blessed Jordan of Saxony notes that there was a time when he met a beggar who looked so miserable that Bl. Jordan gave him his Dominican tunic. The man went off with it, sold it, and bought drinks for everyone at the local tavern, bragging about his acting skills. Bl. Jordan heard about it from people. He just said ruefully, “It is better to lose a tunic than charity.”