Before I entered the seminary last year, I worked for Edmonton’s Food Bank, where I organized fundraisers and collected food donations so that we could provide food to those who did not have enough to eat. The most remarkable moments of generosity always came from our clients themselves. Even though they needed food themselves, they shared what they received with their neighbours and friends, and some would give a few dollars so that we could help another hungry person in the community. The poor widow in this Sunday’s Gospel reminded me of those clients and of the beauty there is in contributing out of one’s own poverty.
We tend to think more about the obligation of those who have great wealth to care for the poor, and that focus is both for the sake of the poor and the sake of the wealthy (after all, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of heaven). But even though it is a clear obligation for them, we should not be tempted then to see charity as an act that only the wealthy can practice regularly. Charity is a virtue that each of us is called to practice for the love of God and for the sake of our neighbour; we do not practice charity because of what we can benefit from it, but because it is right for us to do.
For us, this charity may take the form of what we see in the first reading or the Gospel, giving away what little we have for the good of another. This requires a great trust that the Lord will provide for us in our need, but it is a trust that is warranted as the first reading tells us. This charity may also take the form of spending our time at the service of others, even in our busy day-to-day lives where time itself becomes a commodity, to help them in their need or be present with them in their suffering. No matter what form it takes, this charity bespeaks a great sacrificial love. Charity cannot be reduced to merely giving away what we have as an impersonal or calculating act, and charity cannot be defined by the amount we give. Perfect charity is done out of love for another and is greater when it comes out of our poverty.
Daniel Salé – St. Joseph Seminary, Edmonton, Alberta
Fot. Marc Olivier Jodoin/Unsplash.com