Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Greatest of these is Love

When Jesus sent his disciples on their first missionary journey he told them not to bring their money bags. A surprising condition in today's world and one we have  little sympathy for. A pastor working among the poor, in an article Bible & Life, gives us his thoughts on the difference between sharing and donating.

He often hears the words, "You are making light of our sincerity" from those who come to him offering money for the poor. Though he appreciates their generous spirit, he refuses the money.

And says, when he refuses to take their money, "What I have is all that is necessary. Poverty is not misery; you do with what you have. What is important is to love and be concerned. Help the priests around you. I have seen that when you help the poor with too many material things, you often deprive them of their humanity. Help those who are more in need. When I need help I will ask you, and you can then give."

Hearing  these words of the pastor, many are shamed, he says, and understanding their feelings, he feels uncomfortable saying them. But he reminds us: if we had seen the results of what material giving alone has done to many, we would understand his thinking. Much of what we give is not given to the whole person but only to the  material well-being of the person. Have you ever thought of how the material aid we give often has bad results? he asks.

We all have a desire to help those who are having difficulties. This is a good sentiment. But we have to think deeply on what is the best way to help. We at times have a good feeling of having helped but are not concerned with what may have been the unfortunate results of that generosity. Material giving for those in dire straits is proper and necessary. To help people get out of their serious state of poverty, with hope for the future is necessary, and not just to relieve them of their serious present situation. That is why love and concern is important in giving.

He confesses that at one time he was satisfied in just giving material aid. But living with the poor in these slums, he changed his thinking completely. True sharing comes from living together with them, he says. There is a world of difference between sharing and contributing material goods. He now says he understands not only with the head why Jesus came to live with us. It was to share love. Just contributing our material goods is not what is necessary. What's necessary is doing it in the way Jesus did.

In a busy life, this is often not easy to do. However, he hopes that we will not only be satisfied in giving of our material goods but reach out to others with our love and concern. More important than thinking how we can materially help another is sharing our lives with them, to be with them with love and concern.

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