How often do we feel as though we don't have anything to give to others in need? How often do we, wishing we could do more, feel helpless in the face of others' needs? In today's Gospel, Our Lord tells the Pharisees of the importance of giving alms. How can we give alms when, at times, we feel as though we have nothing to give?
The real gift is not that which is offered, but the place from which it is offered. We may feel as though we cannot offer money or something which can make a significant difference to those who need our help. We can always offer our time and our attention, no matter how rich or poor we are. And the manner in which we offer our time and our talents is often as valuable as the gift itself. It is possible that one may write a generous check and make a much-needed financial contribution without any emotional or spiritual investment in the beneficiary of the gift. By the same token, it is almost impossible for one to help a family in need by delivering a meal, picking up groceries, running errands, etc. and not, in some way, touch the lives of the recipients.
We can only give what we have. Some of us do not have money which we can give but almost all of us have time and talents which can be offered to those around us. We can offer to pray or make sacrifices for those in need; in this way, we give the gift of our time and our comfort. How we give alms is as important as -- if not more important than -- the gift which is given. Let us not feel discouraged that we do not have many things to give; let us remember that we all have the resources to give cheerfully, lovingly and generously ... even if all we have to give is a smile.
"For fasting, prayer and alms-giving are the coins whereof your treasures are to consist. Now as amongst the treasures of the temple, the poor widow's mite was much esteemed, and as indeed, by the addition of many little pieces treasures become great, and their value increases, so the least little good works . . . are agreeable to God, and esteemed by him."
St. Francis de Sales