Sunday, December 15, 2013

Almsgiving Giving Sunday

“I invite all the institutions of the world, and the Church--each of us together as one single human family--to give a voice to all of those who suffer silently from hunger so that this voice becomes a roar which can shake the world.” This appeal from Pope Francis was intended to support Caritas International's campaign against hunger, which will begin with prayer  on the South Pacific island of Samoa. and from there head west across the world.

Both Catholic papers, with editorials and articles, remind readers that one of eight persons in the world does not have sufficient food to eat, reminding us also that having enough to sustain oneself with food is a human right. The bishops of Korea, since 1984, have selected the third Sunday of Advent as Almsgiving Day to remember the hungry poor.

One editorial points out that in the Church's history, as a sign of penance, along with prayer and fasting, almsgiving was an important element, and a good and practical way of helping those in need. Like all of society, during this time of year the Church needs to show concern for the needy. There are many who need a helping hand in our Korean society, and we should be concerned enough to find them, said one of the bishops in his message for Sunday.

In one of the articles the columnist mentions that many have given goods to help others but mentions that Korea is still at the neophyte stage of giving. She mentions the Charities Aid Foundation which compiles a world-giving index, and Korea does not make the top twenty, while the Philippines, Indonesia and Sri Lanka did make the list of the top  20.  In Korea, 70 percent of the help given to the poor comes from large companies. The criterion for the ranking is donating money to an organization, volunteering  time or helping  a stranger at least once a month.

Not quite 30 percent of the population have given donations, with some of it in the form of gifts, as a gesture of condolence or in celebration, or as a religious offering. The columnist quotes from the 8th article of the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity of the Second Vatican Council, which says we have the duty and privilege to help those in need. It is not a matter of how much but of participating.

She mentions that during vacation time in Seoul, according to the media, there are 50,000 children who are not receiving school lunches and  are not eating their regular meals. There are also those who have to live without heat. All of which should remind us, the columnist points out, that Korea is now one of the economic giants on the world stage, and yet there are those who are not benefiting from the wealth the country enjoys.

It is interesting to note that the determining factor motivating those who give, according to the Charities Aid Foundation, is the happiness they experience when giving rather than the wealth they possess.  Whether this is another example of the chicken and egg riddle, this fact is clear: the two are often found existing comfortably together.

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