Diffusing $100

A simple post today.

My daughter recently sent me a youtube video, “How does a homeless man spend $100,” which many of you may have already seen. It made me think of the medieval philosophical axiom, drawn from neo-platonic metaphysics, that is meant to capture in a phrase the nature of God:

Bonum est diffusivum sui.

Loosely translated, it means “goodness gives itself away.” For medieval Christian theologians, it offered a marvelously simple manner of describing the Trinity of divine Persons, who eternally give themselves away to each other, and the Incarnation, which is God’s self-gift to creation.

Swiss Theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar expressed this well:

Wastefulness is the original Christian attitude. The entire Passion occurs under the sign of this complete self-wasting of God’s love for the world.

Humanity, made in the image of a self-diffusing good God, is called and gifted to go and do likewise. Personal fulfillment is only to be found in a life oriented toward the fulfillment of others.

So simple, so hard.

Fr. Anthony, my sainted (and now deceased) spiritual director once said to me in a rare moment of personal sharing:

My hope is to die poor, to spend all God has given me.

That’s a handy definition of holiness. The idea also appears in a framed quote hanging on a wall in what I consider to be one of the best movies ever made, It’s a Wonderful Life:

Okay, here’s the video. Enjoy:

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