Mercy

Charity work in Christian law

Jesus Christ showed us the need of charity work for our salvation, and now He  teaches us how to be merciful; He warns us against a great danger that can lead to pride and the loss of any spiritual fruit.

We can be merciful because of love or because of pride, and we can do charity donations in order to be seen by the others.

One can feed the hunger  because of  love but also of pride. Love gives all for the glory of God and pride does everything for its own glory, for vainglory. That is why God warns us:  “Be careful that you don’t do your charitable giving before men, to be seen by them, or else you have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1)

This does not mean that charity can`t be done in the presence of people; it can be done in the presence of  people, but not with the intention to be seen and to be praised by the others for what we do. If we do charity in order to be praised, than wherever we do it, it`s not for God and for the others, but for our own vainglory. But God looks into our hearts and He rewards us not for our deeds, but for the intention  which we have done the charity – this is the true essence of what we do.

If we accomplish a good thing, it exists, but if we are boastful, then we  change its  meaning and it disappears imperceptibly the spiritual benefit  from our hearts; where there is pride and all that comes from it, is no longer true goodness.  A good deed accomplished for pride, it is not considered an act of kindness:  So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others….”, continued Jesus: “Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full..” So, they are rewarded as they wish: the  people praise them, but their act of charity is useless because they are filled with haughtiness.

God rewards only the honest and unselfish acts of charity. How to do charity? “But when you give alms, let not your left hand know what your right hand does: …”, and if we want to show our goodwill to someone, we first need to show our intention to our Father, for He has the priority to reward us. But if we   want to have people  as witnesses, God will not deprive us of  this joy , if it is in behalf of all: “Even so, let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. ” So, our charity work is not individual but on God’s behalf, it was given to us to carry it out and make it of our own in order to acquire some of God’s features.

Nowaday,  right in front of our eyes, this moving story is repeated daily:

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day.  At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores….”(Luke 16: 19-21). We must be aware that for the poor is very hard to accept and bear the humiliating condition of the survival with the others’ charity  and to be fed with crumbs. Therefore, we should be merciful with the poor and give our love that they shoud not be ashamed to receive it; in this way, we lighten their cross and we also  get rid  of our pride. Doing so, Lord will bless us  through the poor’s prayer because  we had brought them joy. This good deed unseen by the people will bring us joy  and we will feel the fulfillment brought by Christian love. Thus, our lives should be led by Jesus’s words:

“But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. so that your giving may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”

 (Ana Copelnic)

(Ana Colopelnic, a medicine student from Baia-Mare)

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