Our readings for this week deal with practical charity. As the first reading says, ” the Lord God is our stronghold” in this. And Christ was sent, as he says, quoting Isaiah, to bring the good news to the poor”. Lets confess ways we fail in charity..
There’s a story told of a man coming before Peter for judgment. “I see you’ve many sins piled up against you”, said Peter” have you done any good at all in life”. “Well” he said “I did give a loaf of bread to a poor person some time ago”. “OK” Peter said, “we’ll put that in the scales”. On one side of the scales he put the man’s sins and on the other the loaf of bread. Lo and behold the loaf outweighed all the rest and he was saved. This is just a story but it shows how important helping the poor is in the lives of Christians; St.Paul says “charity cancels a multitude of sins”. And Christ tells us that even a cup of cold water given in his name is rewarded. But apart from the fact that charity aids our salvation, we Christians should help others for another reason. Because they’re children of God, our brothers and sisters in Christ, and because ordinary humanity dictates that we cannot be indifferent to human suffering around us.
For Christ commands us to love not just in a vague sense but in a real way. Yet too often we walk by brothers or sisters in the gutter and I include myself in this. Every day on TV we’ve images of hurricane or earthquake victims or starving children in Africa and though many help, some also turn their eyes away. Are we responsible for righting such wrongs? Yes, because we’re partly to blame and because we are our brother’s keeper. When I was in the Philippines I saw how 60% of its GNP went to repay debt to western banks. We westerners can be blind to the fact that for every euro we give to poor countries we take 9 back.
But there are always charitable demands at home too, especially as the recession kicks in. The needy are all around us, if we open our eyes; I read in the Irish Catholic recently that quite a lot of people in Ireland go hungry now with the cutbacks and lack of work. Giving to Vincent De Paul is one way to help. But in whatever way we can we might give some of our surplus to the less well off. Its our duty to make the world God’s more just world and its good to start at home. Even people living with us can be needy. In our homes there may some who need a hug, or a gee up.
In this or in the wider field, we Christians are asked to love in action. Otherwise Christ may say at the end of time: “depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire for I was hungry and you did not give me to eat” and so on. If Christ came to us for help we’d give freely; but the needy are always with us and they are Christ. “Give to everyone who asks of you”, He says. I find it hard to do that myself, but if someone asks I always try to give something. I may be taken advantage of, but I can’t deny the Gospel. Its better to err on the side of generosity than be mean. For we’re sons and daughters of a God who’s so good to us; “freely, freely you have received, freely give”, the hymn says. If Christ gave his last drop of blood for me I know I should give freely until it hurts. And like the man who gave the loaf of bread, even the smallest act of generosity will be rewarded by Jesus when he comes at the end to judge the living and the dead. For riches and hoarding this world’s goods are no use to us at last, we carry nothing with us into the grave. But Christ is lord of just and giving hearts for our happiness in this world and forever and ever, amen. So as God’s people committed to charity at home and abroad, for a juster world, let’s profess our faith.
Prayers of the Faithful
And as the people of God lets pray for our own needs and the needs of all disadvantaged people in these difficult times..
For the Holy Father and all leaders of the church that they may remind the powers that be of their duty to bring justice and equality for all, equal sharing of earth’s resources..
For civil leaders, may they not be so obsessed with economics as to the lose sight of their duty to help people achieve a good standard of living, especially the poor and underprivileged..
For youth that in their rightful pursuit of the good life for themselves, they may not lose sight of their duty to practice charity, to make some contribution to a just world for all..
For ourselves in our homes that in these difficult times we may have plenty for our children and some left over to help others..
For the sick, the aged, the lonely and the oppressed that through our love and charity they may know the love of God..
For the dead whose deeds are know to God alone, that they may reach the reward of the blessed with the help of our prayers..
And we ask all these prayers through Christ the only lord of love forever and ever, amen.
There’s a story told of Mother Theresa when she was getting established in Calcutta. She acquired a derelict Hindu temple for her work, but the locals objected that the place of worship should not be desecrated by hobos. “Ah”, she said, “God does not recognize whether the poor are Hindu or Christian or whatever, only that they need help”. Its the same with us, we should not discriminate on grounds of race, color or creed, but help all who need our help whatever way we can. We pray to Mother Mary, mother of all people, to give us such generous hearts..Hail Mary