I am pondering today this passage, read last night in my prayer book: “If someone who has worldy means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him?” 1 John 3:14. The thought after the passage reads, “The poor are all those who stand in need of our love, our time, our interest, our concern.”
Wow. My love. My time. My interest. My concern. When I have the means to offer these to those who need them, and I don’t, I fall short. I think especially today of my children. How often have they been trying to tell me that a foot hurts or about a scary dream they had, and I just “uh huh” them, not really paying attention to what they’re trying to tell me? This is really one way I am withholding the love, time, interest, and concern that they need. I’ve been trying to be better about stopping and really looking into their eyes when they are sharing something with me, so that they know I’m listening and that I care.
But it’s hard sometimes. There are dishes to be done, intellects to feed, tummies to be nourished, and I do need a shower on occasion. I must guide the children to have the same care and concern for me and for other members of our family. I don’t want to create a community of takers with mom as the Great Giver. I expect each family member to contribute to our domestic church, and in this way we might become a community of love, each family member contributing to the needs of the other family members as we all grow in virtue. The call to virtue and to self-gift doesn’t only apply to mommy.
As Lent proceeds, I am thinking too about my almsgiving plans. Almsgiving involves not just a giving of our financial resources, but also our care and concern for those who need them. We cross the paths every day of human beings in pain, suffering in ways we don’t always understand. We can take an interest and take time to be present, and if they’ll allow us, we can step in to relieve the suffering in whatever way we are called. This kind of love is a powerful witness to our little ones, who will learn to recognize and comfort those in sorrow or in trouble, those oppressed by worry or loneliness. Those impoverished in these ways desperately need our love, time, interest, and concern.
Finally, as I recognize my own limitations in resources, both financial and personal, it helps me to see how God’s resources are limitless and what an extraordinary gift that is. I am grateful for the great generosity of Christ, his love and concern never running dry, even on the the road to Calvary, even as he hung dying on the cross — ridiculed, betrayed, alone. As I try to parent my children to have a heart for Christ, to guide them to holiness, I pray for the patience and endurance to love even a little like Christ loved us on that long, sorrowful weekend.
Photo credit: Artem Meshcheryakov (photos.com)