October 2006

Throughout the whole Gospel, Jesus invites us to give: to “give to the poor” (Mk 10:21). “Give to the one who asks of you and… one who wants to borrow” (Mt 5:42). “Give them some food yourselves” (Mk 6:37). “If anyone wants… your tunic, hand him your cloak as well” (Mt 5:40). “Without cost you are to give” (Mt 10:8).
Jesus was the first to give: he came to bring the sick back to health, to forgive sinners, and “to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mk 10:45).
To counteract our instinct to hoard, Jesus put generosity; for our inclination to worry about our own needs he shifted the focus to our neighbors, and in place of the culture of having he put the culture of giving.
It does not matter if we can give a lot or a little. What counts is “how” we give, how much love we put into even a small gesture of attention for someone. At times, it is enough to offer them a cup of water, “only a cup of cold water” is how the Gospel of Matthew (10:42) puts it, an offering appreciated and needed especially in a country as hot and dry as Palestine.

«Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward» 

Giving a cup of water is a simple gesture and yet it is great in the eyes of God if it is done in his name, that is, if it is done out of love.
Love has many nuances and knows how to find the most suitable ways to make its effects felt.
Love is attentive because it forgets about itself.
Love is thoughtful because in seeing someone’s need, it does the impossible to meet it.
Love is essential because it knows how to draw close to another person simply by being ready to listen and to serve, by being available.
How many times when we are with others, especially when they are suffering, we think that we are doing them an important service by giving them advice, not always opportunely however, or by carrying on a lengthy conversation which can either bore them or tire them out.
Instead, it is important “to be” a presence of love for each person we come in contact with. By being love, we will discover the most direct way of entering into the other’s world and of lifting him or her up.

«Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward»

The Word of Life for this month can help us to discover anew the value of everything we do: from doing housework to working in the fields or in the garage, to doing paperwork at the office, to doing our homework for school, as well as carrying out our civic, political, and religious duties. Everything can be transformed into attentive and thoughtful service for others.
Love will help us see what the other needs, and love will show us how to respond with creativity and generosity.
What will the results be? Gifts will circulate, for love calls forth love. Joy will be multiplied since “There is more happiness in giving than in receiving” (Acts 20:35).

«Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward»

I remember that during World War II there were some very poor families in certain parts of Trent, our city. We went out to share what we had with them; we wanted to improve the conditions of their lives so that we would all be on a more equal economic level.
Although these were simple acts, they brought about incredible results: food, clothing, and medicines began to arrive in surprising abundance. We became more and more convinced that the Gospel contains the answer to every personal dilemma and every social problem.
And it was not a utopia. Today thousands of businesses are involved in the Economy of Communion in Freedom, as it came to be called. They strive to carry out their business activities according to the culture of giving and to use their profits for social goals, such as to helping disadvantaged people by creating employment for them and meeting their basic needs.

But the poor are many and the profits from these businesses cannot meet all their needs. Thus since 1994 many of us have pledged to give at least a small amount each month to aid the needy.
We currently help 7,000 people in 55 nations.
We have received many testimonies on how the “cup of water” has been given and received; it almost seemed like a contest to see who could be the most generous. Here is one experience from the many we have received from the Philippines: “Our small butcher shop was going bankrupt because of the outbreak of an epidemic among the livestock. We had to go in debt and we were not sure how we could keep on going. Through your timely and constant support, we have managed to eat a decent meal every day. Before long I began to realize that I too had to help those around me who were in even greater need than I. One of my neighbors fell ill with a disease that made her suffer greatly and she also had real material needs. I assisted her until she left for the next life. Since her husband was much poorer than we were, he was not able to take care of their fifth son. So I took care of him too.”

Chiara Lubich


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