Charity is a Cross

Continuing with our theme of bearing our cross this week, I turn to the third leg of our spiritual stool. One topic we have not yet discussed during our Great Lenten Journey is that of charity. Our Lord calls us to serve others as we were reminded before Great Lent began on Judgment Sunday. If we don’t serve others we cannot enter into heaven. Look again at Recognizing Heaven, and you will remember that it isn’t what we do, but how we see others that makes the difference.

If we are honest, then we know the difficulty in serving others. It isn’t that we don’t have the means to help, even if it be just a sandwich or cool glass of water. The real struggle is getting over how we see others. This is the cross of charity. We are tempted to see laziness in poverty rather than honest circumstances. I remember during one visit I made into a poverty-stricken neighborhood, that the children of that neighborhood had learned before the age of ten that, either they would be dead or in prison before their 21st birthday. In that reality, working for a living is not seen as likely, let alone of anything valuable. Do I consider them lazy or on the wrong end of the lucky stick?

The ability to look at others with a pure heart takes more than just a few dollars. It requires a heart routinely basted with the peace of Christ. The willingness to ignore what seems obvious to our eyes, more as being in the wrong place at the wrong time, requires a mind that dwells upon the power of the resurrection. If all we see is the brokenness of others, we will never see the resurrection.

Don’t allow this year’s Great Lenten Journey to end without first reaching out to others. Find someplace this week where you can serve others. Don’t limit your service to making a donation, though donations are often helpful tools. Take some time this week to put aside your own agenda and judgment and serve someone who is need. It could be as simple as making some sandwiches and bringing them to a local shelter. Maybe your local parish has a feeding ministry for which you can volunteer. It won’t be easy, but it will be a blessing. Charity is a cross, but the Cross is always a blessing.