Sunday, February 22, 2015

Lent 3 ~ Good Works ~ Alms Giving

   Lent is a beautiful time of growing closer to Christ by giving of ourselves through the good works of prayer, fasting and alms giving. In these ways, we aspire to imitate Our Blessed Lord in the way that he gave Himself, without reservation,  to all of us. Fear is the greatest obstacle to generosity. Holy Scriptures teach us that love casts out all fear.
     While visiting Guatemala, I was overwhelmed by the generosity of the people there. Their life is a life of poverty by our country's standards. What amazed and humbled me was the freedom with which people gave of their time, work and goods. They did not hold back. There was no measuring of how much was given nor was there an expectation of anything in return. Giving to those in need came easily.
     It is said that the higher one's income, the more difficult it is to be generous. Are material possessions too much to lose? Why is it so difficult to share? Why are prayers of petition more desperate and fervent than prayers of thanksgiving? What is so frightening about giving away material possessions? Elaborate household alarm systems and expensive storage of never used items underscore the anxiety attached to protecting material goods. What is so scary about losing what is so easily lost? The despair associated with holding on to things is evenly matched with the despondency of not having enough. All of this occurs with the full awareness of nearby poverty. 
     A dear friend is a contemplative nun. She owns nothing. Her peaceful smile is ever present. She fears nothing, not even death. Her only concern is that she is not giving Jesus enough love.
     May this Lent's alms giving take away our fear and fill us with the love of Christ.