Give Alms to Please God

‘When you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.’ (Matthew 6:3-4)

A man begs for alms at Our Lady of Health church in Hyderabad, India, on Sept. 8, 2016 — the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
A man begs for alms at Our Lady of Health church in Hyderabad, India, on Sept. 8, 2016 — the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. (photo: Noah Seelam / AFP via Getty Images)

People are drawn to truth, beauty and goodness. We want what is good and we want to do good. While we all can’t go to mission trips to Africa or teach school in Appalachia, we can all help people much closer to home.

It’s true: “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). Are you such a person? If you find it difficult to find joy in giving away money, consider the following:

First, recognize that everything you have is a gift. Your success was most likely a combination of smarts, hard work and sacrifice, all attributes given to you by God. You may have made some good investments or inherited money or saved money (because you were able to spend less than you made). Good for you. Many people don’t have the means that you had to do what you are doing. Yes, you worked hard, but God gave you that work ethic. There are also many things outside of people’s control that keep them from being able to succeed, or crises arise that have wiped out their savings. Be grateful to God for whatever you have been given.

Second, giving money to charities or those in need gets you “outside of yourself.” You are not thinking about yourself. Focus on the good that can be done with that money. Think even about the person at the charity who opens the mail. They feel encouraged by this act of kindness. Think of the end result.

Third, we don’t have limitless resources. Set a budget for each month or each year for donations. Thus, when an opportunity comes up, the decision isn’t whether you can afford it, but whether this is the charity that you want to support. For me, it takes away the anxiety of it being “my money.”

Fourth, while all these steps are good, the ultimate reason for giving is that it pleases God. God sees you getting outside of yourself and doing something selflessly, and God wants us to be joyful. Through gratitude, humility, faith and hope, we are spurred in charity to obey and please God. Doing charitable acts or giving alms because it pleases God brings you further along on your path to union with God.

As Lent culminates in the Passion of our Lord, consider the sacrifice that Jesus made, the gifts that you have been given and the opportunities for sharing that are out there. Then go joyfully and give of yourself in his name.

‘Bread and Water’

The Joy of Fasting

“The interior penance of the Christian can be expressed in many and various ways. Scripture and the Fathers insist above all on three forms, fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, which express conversion in relation to oneself, to God, and to others.” (Catechism 1434)