Lk 6:38 Give and there will be gifts for you: a full measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap; because the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back.
What is Almsgiving?According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, "Any material favour done to assist the needy, and prompted by charity, is almsgiving. Put differently, almsgiving implies a material service rendered to the poor for Christ's sake."
Been Tantalised Lately?There are several references in the Scriptures to almsgiving but I am particularly fascinated by this one:
- My child, do not refuse the poor a livelihood, do not tantalise the needy. (Sir 4:1 NJB). The word “tantalise” means to torment or tease someone with the sight or promise of something that is unobtainable. The word derives from Tantalus in Greek mythology who was punished for his crimes by being provided with fruits and water which receded whenever he reached for them. If this isn’t hell, I don’t know what is. Wisdom 11:15,16 says that, “By what things a man sinneth by the same also he is tormented.” In essence, to give alms to the needy avails you of God’s mercy. Not to give is to deny yourself the possibility of receiving.
How to Give AlmsOften at Mass people reach into their pockets to offer a spare Naira note or change for the offertory basket? Spare change is not the principle that should guide almsgiving or our weekly Mass offerings. Giving alms requires a generous heart and prudential reasoning.
To give requires prudence:
- We must reflect on the past (the concrete needs of the poor and the nature of our commitments to parish life);
- Anticipate the future (how to determine what we can give while still supporting our own family);
- In order to act well in the present (decide on how much and on whom to give).
Who to Give AlmsIn order to give alms with the right disposition, we need to identify the poor. St. Thomas Aquinas provides us with categories of poverty to enhance our discernment:
- Those in extreme poverty lack the necessities to sustain life.
- Those in serious poverty would fall into decline without material help.
- Those in common poverty struggle to provide the necessities of life.
Benefits of Almsgiving
- On a man generous with food, blessings are invoked, and the testimony to his goodness is lasting (Sir 31:23).
- He who is generous will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor. (Prov 22:9)
- Whoever despises his neighbour is a sinner, but blessed is he who is generous to the poor. (Prov 14:21)
- And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward. (Mat 10:42)
- Alms atone for sins. He who does a kindness is remembered afterward; when he falls, he finds a support." (Sir 3:29b-30)
- No one who gives to the poor will ever go short, but whoever closes his eyes will have curses in plenty (Prov 28:27)
- He who oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is kind to the needy honours him. (Prov 14:31).
PrayerLord, accept my sacrifices today for the good of the poor and for the Church as a pleasing sacrifice.
#LentChallenge Day 11:Give help to someone in need today. Read Dan 9:4-10; Ps 79:8-13; Lk 6:36-38