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Wednesday, 17 March 2021 06:00

Lent and the Gift of Almsgiving

 

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When I was younger, I found almsgiving to be a rather mysterious word. Not realizing how it was spelt, I though the word was armsgiving. It led to me wondering what it was all about. I was pretty sure I did not have to cut off my arm to give to another, mostly because I hadn’t seen too many people walking around with an arm missing. What I was aware of, was people aiming to fill their Project Compassion boxes so that the money could be given to those in need.

Almsgiving, or charitable giving is actually an ancient practice that existed before the time of Jesus. In our context though, almsgiving is a particular focus during Lent because we are invited to enter into the experience of the cross and mirror the compassion of Jesus, reaching out in ways that we can to ease the suffering and burdens of others.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes almsgiving as a witness to fraternal charity and a work of justice pleasing to God (CCC 2462). Certainly one of the more common ways to give alms is to provide financial assistance. Yet while this is critically important, there are many other ways we can engage in almsgiving as well.

Perhaps we are called to give of our time in a way that challenges us – to visit someone who is lonely, to take on a task that will ease the burden of another, to write a note of affirmation or thanks each day to someone who has impacted our life.

Whatever it may be, let’s be inspired by the poor widow whose story we read in the gospels -let’s give in a way that stretches and challenges us, rather than only giving our ‘spare change’. It is not too late to pray and ask God how he is inviting us to give alms during Lent this year.

Mel Edwards