“Charity begins at home.” Does anyone know the origin of this fatuous phrase? I hear it quoted among Catholics as if it is sacred Scripture, and when it is quoted it is most often as a response to my suggestion that a person ought to donate more to the church or to the poor. “After all Father,” they say with that smug expression like they’ve just thought of something terribly clever, “Charity does begin at home.”

I think, if the phrase means anything at all it means that “love” begins at home, and if you can’t be charitable or loving to the people you live with, it’s not worth pretending to love others.

Instead the people who don’t want to give to the poor or to the church misinterpret the word ‘charity’ and think it means ‘charitable giving to the poor’ and end up denying the needs of the poor and the church by with holding their loot, and they do so with a sense of self righteousness.

So next time you hear someone trot out the phrase “Charity begins at home.” Take a moment to gently ask what they mean by it. They’re probably using it as a get out to justify their lack of concern for the poor.