People wading through toxic flood waters, babies without clean diapers for days, lost loved ones, hurricane victims, countries struggling with famine and unspeakable horrors… What is your response? Or are you too numb to be moved?
For most of us, such unimaginable images touch us at the core of our beings and call forth a response. Then we feel helplessness, compassion, sorrow and a strong urge TO DO SOMETHING. So many millions have done just that already. Thank God! Here are some further steps you can take as a disciple of Jesus that will unleash the presence and mercy of God in even deeper ways.
- Stand with Jesus, who was often “moved with pity” for the blind, the lame, the broken who crossed his path. He also experienced compassion for whole crowds of the hungry, the lost and the hurting. You can share this inner stirring with him. He understands. And remember that for him, this experience was often the doorway to many healings.
- Tap into the presence of God by praying for the people who concern you most. Do this many times. It might be a category of persons, like those without food, the medically needy who are experiencing a disaster, the elderly with pets, or people from a certain city or cities. Make a list to help you keep praying. Add “Lord, Have mercy.” After every name.
- Seek the Holy Spirit on behalf of others. It is OK to start with, “Do something, God!” But then it is time to ask for the wisdom of the Spirit about what to give. Should it be money or physical items? Should it be through a trusted organization that addresses your greatest concerns? What is most efficient and immediate? You might consult charitynavigator.org. Then ask the Spirit to unleash God’s power though what you decide to do.
- Surrender to the charism of almsgiving and do what Jesus leads you to do. It is a gift to be able to serve others (see Romans 12:8). And when we do so in the love of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, God multiplies our resources in ways we can’t even imagine. Through almsgiving you are doing more than donating. You are participating in God’s divine mercy for all his children.
- Use the opportunity to let God redefine what you need. Almsgiving is most fruitful when is accompanied by the gift of fasting. Ask yourself, “What can I do without in order to have more to give? How can I live a more simple life? Do I really need a dozen pair of shoes, two vacations a year, or a new car?” We are inspired by a Haitian hairdresser named Pierre Toussaint (1766 – 1853) who chose poverty as a way of life. As an eighty-year-old, he was asked why he didn’t retire from his lucrative business. His reply was, “I would not have enough for others.”