Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God. Normally we put charity as love of neighbor. But mostly we limit it in the physical capacities. For example we can say charity is feeding the poor, helping the needy, giving shelter to the orphan.
But this only involves food, shelter and clothing which are only the physical aspect of charity. The physical aspect of charity is called almsgiving. But there is much more to charity than just alms-giving. We need to increase in love so that we can see spiritual and emotional charity, the two important forms of expressing love based on the two greatest commandments taught by Jesus Christ.
a) Jesus says, “Love your God with all your heart and all your mind.” So loving God means always thinking about him, seeking his presence, giving him the first priority in life. This means never missing an opportunity to be with him, always desiring more and more time spent with him. To seek the Holy Spirit and relish his gifts and charisms.
b) The next one is always thanking him irrespective of all circumstances, because only he is worthy of all praise and honor from his people. We must always remember his wonders in our lives as well as thank him for sending us his son for our salvation. He always desires that we adore and praise him. Like our Lord Jesus Christ, we must accept God’s will in our lives and always give thanks to him.
c) Loving his Church, the living body of Christ is our duty and responsibility. We are called to obey and support the holy Catholic Church. To understand what the Church teaches and clearing all misconceptions about our faith is our duty. To remain strong in faith and obedience to the Church till the Lord comes again is our duty. Taking Mother Mary as our example we must always live with the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit when on earth.
d) God does not differentiate between Jews , Muslims or Buddhists. All are part of his creation. He would like each one of his sheep to be saved. He would also desire that his children live in peace when on earth. So let carry out our Christ’s command in proclaiming the gospel to the ends of the earth in whatever ways possible by us. Let us remember God’s love for the world. That he gave his Son for each person on this earth whom he willfully created.
e) God reigns from the everlasting to the everlasting. He has given us life, and with his abundant mercy forgives and heals us even though we fail frequently. We must not take for granted any of his blessings he has bestowed upon us. We must not take pride or credit for his blessings. Even faith is a gift which he gives freely to his children. We must acknowledge and testify to his presence and blessings in our lives.
a) Jesus says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Judging or pointing out others mistakes is not charity. Instead appreciating them as a gift of God, we must respect and encourage them with compassion and benevolence. We must remember to pray for them. Jesus said, “everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, `You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire.”(Mt 5:22).
b) Sometimes we are forced to lie or avoid the truth in order to remain worthy/great in the eyes of another person. Sometimes to cut the conversation short or to escape punishment we use this way out. Jesus says in John 17:19 “And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth.” Here we see how Jesus is consecrating himself with truth. If we are not consecrated in truth, we are not partakers of Christ who is himself the truth, the way and the life.
c) We are recognized as Christians not only by faith but also by our works. We must always practice what we preach, without acting like hypocrites. We must live in such a way that inspires all around us to live a holy life. We must exude love always and everywhere we go. Jesus tells us,” You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”(Mt 5:48) It is our duty to inspire and encourage others around us to live in with hope and consolation in our Lord Jesus Christ.
d) Jesus says in Matthew 10:16, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” In the verses that follow Jesus says that you will be flogged, mocked, persecuted for me. We must not find ways and means to escape this pain. Instead remembering our Lord’s passion we must bear it with patience. By saying wise as serpents, Jesus is calling us to be aware of the vain promises and schemes of the evil one. To always lookout for the traps the evil one sets for us in our daily lives.
e) “Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the man by whom the temptation comes!”(Mt 18:7) We must in no way be a cause for our neighbor to sin, either by looks, words or actions. We must always be charitable to others in the way we speak, act or dress such that they are not led to sin. And also we must be aware that we do not yield to such temptations like jealousy, pride or inferiority complex by the way others behave with us.
Prayer: May we be empowered by the sacrament of Holy Eucharist, through which we become one with Christ and be filled with the Holy Spirit, always seeking the will of God in our lives through the powerful intercession of our Mother Mary.
– – – written by Praveen Sebastian