Lent is a time of great sacrifice, but it is not just something that makes us suffer. There is so much more to it. I suppose for many people, we start out offering something up to Jesus during this time, but then get distracted from the purpose of coming closer to Christ and we forget about it or it becomes a burden. If we lose our focus on the reason of our efforts, Jesus, it is bound to become a burden. We should all know why we do what we do during Lent in the general sense. We give up good things, bad things, and hopefully start new good habits. Doing these things help contribute to the fruitfulness of our lives. Sacrifice makes life meaningful. We would not sacrifice something for things or people that do not mean anything to us. There is a higher purpose for our lives than just whatever makes you happy. This higher purpose is what gives us the joy that only Jesus can give.
Almsgiving is part of the sacrifice we make for Jesus. It makes the gift more complete. It is something beyond giving in the collection. In almsgiving, Jesus calls us to help those who do not have food to eat or a warm place to stay. It is particularly given for the poor. The scripture passage that comes to mind is in Matthew 25:40 “I assure you, as often as you did it for my least brothers, you did it for me” in referring to how we would take care of those in need. Learning to be generous can go a long way for the treasures in heaven.
We should all stop and be amazed at what Jesus said in Matthew. Whenever anyone does something to us, for good or for bad, He considers it as if that person did it to Him personally. Likewise, whatever we do for anybody else, Jesus considers it as if we did it for Him personally. Good parents have this attitude about their children. To imagine that God would is an entirely different thing. How many times have we offended God, and yet He still cares so deeply about how we are treated and cared for by others. Our almsgiving is a particular gift intended as a gift to God for Him to do as He wills. His will is for us to give for those who are in need, those who are assumed to be the lowest.
Jesus associates Himself particularly with those who are despised or rejected. He so much associated Himself with them, that He became despised and rejected Himself (Is 53:3). Almsgiving is a way of giving comfort to Jesus when no one was there for Him (Is 40:1-11). It is a way of making up for all the times when we have abandoned Him like Peter did three times (Lk 22:59-62). God gives us an opportunity to play our part of the biblical events that are many years past. It is all about relationships. Our relationship with Jesus is the one relationship that brings us back into relationship with each other. Such is the wisdom and goodness of God.
Our Lenten almsgiving this year is going to St Vincent de Paul and FACC. There are so many people in need right here in town, and we look forward for God to bless those in need with our gifts. As you save money for your Lenten almsgiving this year, please pray for those who are receiving these gifts and especially for those who still need help, yet could not receive it.
I thank God every day that He has been so good to us. I thank Him for caring for us so much. I can only hope to give what little we can give back in return. And I pray that the fruitfulness of your almsgiving will be bountiful.