Lent is a sacred season of 40 days when Our Heavenly Father invites us into the desert and draws us more deeply into an intimate relationship with Him by calling to mind and heart the Mission, Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior.
Our Heavenly Father is the Ultimate Almsgiver.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (John 3:16).
With faithfulness and fidelity, He has freely given all of humanity the Gift of Himself through Jesus, Our Merciful Redeemer, to bring us back into friendship with Him.
For He is “our first love” and “we love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
It is within our nature to love and to give of ourselves completely because we are created in the “image” and “likeness” of God (Genesis 1:26-27). For “God is love” (1 John 4:8) and He created us with love so that we can receive His love and share His love with others.
“God proves His love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
So too we are called to reciprocate our love for God in return by living out this redemptive mission; by taking up our cross daily through prayer, fasting and almsgiving in union with Jesus Crucified. As Jesus gives the alms of His life in Imitation of the Father (John 5:19), we too must lay down our lives in Imitation of Christ and follow His example by performing acts of compassion, mercy and love through deeds, word and prayer.
Lent is the perfect opportunity to “put on the new self ” (Ephesians 4:24) through almsgiving and Corporal Works of Mercy.
■ Feed the hungry
■ Give drink to the thirsty
■ Shelter the homeless
■ Visit the sick
■ Visit the prisoners
■ Bury the dead
■ Give alms to the poor
Jesus teaches us the reality of what this means, “‘For I was hungry, and you gave me food, I was thirsty, and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me’” (Matthew 25:35-36).
St. Faustina shares a beautiful example of almsgiving, servanthood and merciful love in her encounter with “a poor young man” who came to the main entrance of her convent. He was “emaciated, barefoot and bareheaded, and with his clothes in tatters.”
He was “frozen because the day was cold and rainy.” So, she went to the kitchen and found some soup, reheated it, then crumbled some bread on it and gave it to the poor man. After he was done eating, she took the bowl from him and he let her know that He was “the Lord of heaven and earth.” She suddenly saw Jesus as He was and then…He vanished! “When I went back in and reflected on what had happened at the gate, I heard these words in my soul:
My daughter; the blessings of the poor who bless Me as they leave this gate have reached My ears. And your compassion, within the bounds of obedience, has pleased Me, and this is why I came down from My throne — to taste the fruits of your mercy” (Diary of Saint Faustina, entry 1312).
May the fruit of our love and almsgiving this Lent comfort those in need and touch the Heart of Our Heavenly Father through, with and in the Divine Mercy of Jesus.