"Let us visit Christ whenever we may; let us care for him, feed him, clothe him, welcome him, honour him, not only at a meal, as some have done, or by anointing him, as Mary did, or only by lending him a tomb, like Joseph of Arimathaea, or by arranging for his burial, like Nicodemus, who loved Christ half-heartedly, or by giving him gold, frankincense and myrrh, like the Magi before all these others." St Gregory of Nazienzen (From the Office of Readings for 3rd Saturday in Lent)
There are many forms of almsgiving, one of the three great Lenten practices to which we were directed on Ash Wednesday. Many in our society have little money, and some who had money for a while, are struggling now because they lost their jobs or had to accept work that pays their bills but little else. While the acceptance of these difficult circumstances is a real penance for those who have lost their ability to live and support their families in a manner to which they were accustomed, Lent demands even more.
For those who have money, giving some of it away is among the least testing of their penances. "Visiting" Christ in the poor and needy is the real challenge of the gospels, and as Gregory of Nazienzen suggests, it cannot be reduced to a single act, but must be an attitude we develop. Many of us where introduced to this kind of reflection by the Young Christian Worker movement which is still active around the world (CF YCW) Opening our eyes to what is in front of us and choosing how best to respond is difficult but necessary. That 1 billion people in the world have no access to clean water and 21/2 billion have no sewage is not something we can address by ourselves, but working together with others to feed, clothe and house the Christ among us without the resources to help themselves is a clear mandate of the Gospel.
Today, "see, judge and act" about a vital issue in your own community.
Have you had the privilege of helping the poor directly? What was it like for you?