Dear Kianna: I know almsgiving is one of the “pillars” of Lent, but I don’t have a lot of money. What should I do?
– Strapped for Cash
Dear Strapped: First, I want to thank you for beginning this Lenten season with a gracious and generous heart.
In the Gospels, Jesus summarized the whole law and the prophets in two commandments: 1) “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind” and 2) “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” If you have love in your heart for God and for others, then you will naturally uphold all the other rules and commandments of our faith. Love is the answer to all.
What does this have to do with almsgiving? Simply put, if you truly love God with all your being and love others as yourself, you will know how to give back this Lenten season. The love of God is so powerful and transformational that if you are open to his grace, your heart will be on fire for Jesus. And your relationship with Christ will allow you to look upon others with mercy and compassion.
Each of us has been blessed with a unique set of gifts and talents. All our gifts are intended to glorify God and serve others. Recognizing this, we take the emphasis off ourselves and put it on Christ. Our good deeds ultimately are products not of our own efforts, but of God’s grace within us. Take some time to think and pray about the ways you have been gifted and how you can use your talents to spread love.
I believe the best way to give back is through service — giving your time to be with others, sharing your gifts and getting involved in your community. Jesus worked directly with the sick, the dying, the burdened, the lonely and the weak. We are called to share in this beautiful ministry.
If you are able, donating money to charities is great, but this may be difficult depending on your life stage and circumstances (I’m a college student, so I understand!). But there are many ways to save up and spare some change. Perhaps you can take an extra shift at work with the intention of donating the money to CRS Rice Bowl. If you’re young, maybe ask for extra chores around the house to earn money. Get creative!
I encourage you to pray and ask God for ways to give back this Lent. More fundamentally, pray about how you can continue to grow in your relationship with Christ and be surrounded by his sacrificial love. My hope this Lent is to focus on the two commandments of love that Jesus taught us, which will lead us to deeper intimacy and union with God and with others.
Read the Spanish version of this column.
Northwest Catholic - March 2020