We often think that we need lots of money to do charitable works, to help the poor, or to give to nonprofit organizations. Yet, we often forget that charity actually comes from our willingness to love. We are reminded to be “salt of the earth” to season the world with the love of God and “light of the world” so that our good deeds might be seen and lead people to glorify the Almighty for what He has done for us who are His children. (cf. Matthew 5:13-16)
My brothers and sisters, it is very important that works of charity and cares for one another are not the sole responsibility of the government. It is not the job of the government to do all good works on behalf of us! If that is the case, we would become indifferent and forget our personal duties and responsibilities of Christian discipleship, stewardship, and charity. We are people of faith, community, and service, for our faith enriches and builds up our community, and our community serves one another out of love for the Lord. Works of charity and mercy are works of love, for faith professed on the lips but without real works of mercy is empty and worthless.
As disciples of Christ and members of the Church, we are taught and called to PERSONALLY feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, alms to the poor, shelter the homeless, visit the sick and imprisoned, and bury the dead as our corporal works of mercy. Furthermore, we are also called to instruct the ignorant out of love, counsel the doubtful, admonish the sinner with mercy, forgive injuries, comfort the sorrowful, bear wrongs patiently, and pray for the living and the dead as our spiritual works of mercy.
It is very easy to wash our hands and say, “It is the government’s job!” Hence, we remain indifferent, untouched, and careless about the welfare of others. May we not forget that politics and its bureaucracy are always and will always remain ineffective and insufficient for real cares of the poor. The government often permits some people having many of the benefits because they know how to play the system while leaving others empty-handed with its web of red tapes and policies. As an escapee of a communist/socialist government, I believe in small government in order to emphasize the rights and freedom — as well as duties and responsibilities — of the ordinary citizens. Nevertheless, if we desire a small government, we have to also remind ourselves that we are called to “share our bread with the hungry; shelter the oppressed and the homeless; clothe the naked when you see them, and do not turn your back on your own,” as reminded by the Prophet Isaiah. This requires that we remove from our midst oppression, false accusations, gossips, and malicious speech, too. Furthermore, we have to remember that the definition of our brothers and sisters per the prophet, as well as the Sacred Scriptures, is one that is way beyond political bureaucracy. We are brothers and sisters in the Lord — the Mystical Body of Christ — the Church. Only when we have given our everything out of loving charity can we call out to the Lord with genuine love, and we will hear Him answer, “Here I am!” (cf. 58:7-10)
St. Mother Teresa of Kolkata once said: “In the presence of hope, faith is born. In the presence of faith, love becomes a possibility. In the presence of love, miracles happen.” Perhaps our world is becoming more polarized, vocal, but indifferent because we have not chosen to love and allow ourselves to be instruments of His loving miracles for those who are in need. Faith is lacking within our homes and society because we have not put love in actions — only talking about this with empty words. Hence, hope is lost and the world is becoming darker when we lack genuine faith to lay down our lives, follow and love the Lord with all of our hearts. Please let me affirm this again: works of charity and mercy are works of love that are motivated by faith! Without the same faith that we professed on our lips, enlivened with real works of mercy, we end up being cymbals and gongs of empty noises.
We do all things because we truly believe that the Lord is with us. We do not have to be rich, powerful, prestigious, popular, good-looking, influential, or anything of the earthly kind to be disciples of Christ. Our greatest strength and power is not based on worldly measures but ones that are grounded on His love for us. We can do all things with the Lord who strengthens us!
In one episode of Winnie the Pooh, Christopher Robin told Pooh that, “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” I think it is important for us to remember that because we often end up believing too much in ourselves or do not believe that we are able to be who He calls us to be. Yet, all these two extremes are simply dependent on our own abilities and not on the power of grace!
We are brave when we know that no one can rob what is truly precious for us because no one really has the power to do so. We can stand up to the voices of lies, false accusations, intimidations, and manipulations to say, “You have no power over me! I belong to Christ Jesus.” We are strong when we do not have to be pretentious and worried about what other people think of us and how we need to present ourselves as someone or something different than who we truly are. We are smarter and wiser when we try our best to discern all things for the greater good of all instead of our own personal goods, gains, or benefits. We have nothing to fear, lose, or worried about what others think of us if we do all things with honesty, justice, humility, and love.
We are who we are by the grace of God. We become more self-giving with His love. We care because it is our mission and purpose as His disciples. Hence, St. Pope John Paul II once said that we need more living witnesses of faith than teachers in this third millennium! He was right. Think about it… If we live according to who we are and what we are called to be, this world will surely be set on fire. However, if we only care about our own personal happiness, we will become hopeless and resentful, hence destroying ourselves, society, and make this world darker each day because we have become individual cells that slowly rot instead of a community that is grounded in loving truth. Therefore, let us not afraid to live our faith out loud, at home and in the public square, with justice and love, with compassion and truth, with sacrificial and self-giving love and humility.
Stay salty and bright, my brothers and sisters.