Almsgiving and Lent, Part 2

We sit at the kitchen table over dinner, sharing about our days and breaking bread. As my husband and I look into the faces of the three little ones sitting across from us, we marvel. They share their joys, their sufferings, and their latest kindergarten watercolor masterpieces that display not only their potential, but their uniqueness. These children are so beautifully and perfectly made, we think, endowed with a dignity that can only come from the Father.

So too are all our brothers and sisters throughout the world endowed with this same beauty, this inherent dignity. Yet, the opportunities that seem to be unceasing for us, are few and far between for so many of them. While we worry about making sure our water bottles are filled before the school day starts, so many of our brothers and sisters are worried about what may befall them on their two hour walking commute to school. While we agonize over what will be for dinner, our brothers and sisters throughout Uganda and Rwanda are struggling to find the means to put anything on the table. While we often find the smallest gripes about our jobs, our brothers and sisters in East Africa long for opportunities to work. So what can we do from afar? We who have been so much? As the Gospel of Luke tells us, “To whom much is given, from him much is expected.”

We have been given much and much is expected. Yet, today, our family is not called to pick-up and move to rural Africa to lend our hands. We are called in a different way, to be His hands, through prayer and almsgiving. Giving alms is to share what we have with those in need, however large or small that gift may be. This gift may be a short prayer or the simple act of giving up something small for their needs. This gift can also be monetary. Our family holds up our brothers and sisters from East Africa in prayer, yet we also know that a monetary gift can help Christ-centered organizations like AsOne do His work. This is why we have chosen to be monthly donors. We know that each month both our prayers and our monetary alms can help sustain AsOne’s life-giving work.

This sanctifying season of Lent brings us back to Him, His ultimate sacrifice for us. It reminds us that we are called to sacrifice for all His children. For us, almsgiving is sharing our abundant blessings at the international table. As we know our Father in Heaven gazes upon each of us, be it our humble table in suburban Denver or a humble table in East Africa, with the same eyes through which we, as parents, see our children. He is in awe of us, our beauty, and knows that He has endowed each of us with unique gifts and charisms. He desires us to serve and to sacrifice for one another, as He did for us. Giving alms is our small way to say to our brothers and sisters in Uganda and Rwanda, and around the globe, that we see you, your joys and your sufferings, and you too are beautifully and perfectly made.

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me. Then the righteous* will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you? And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

-Matthew 25:35-40