Genuine charity descends on the receiver as ‘prayer answered’, and opens up the giver to divine providence

The Taste of Charity

Meditation for Tuesday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time

(1Kg 17:7-16; Mt 5:13-16)

Let us meditate on the encounter between Elijah and the widow of Zarephath. The woman’s act of kindness sheds light on the nature of charity that attracts divine providence. Indeed, charity is an economic principle that is less recognized as such, because we often see it from the point of view of giving away. The act of charity supplies more than it gives away!

 

Elijah was in need, and God sent him to a widow who was equally in need. The woman lamented about her situation to the prophet, saying, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in jar, and a little oil in a pitcher; and now, I am gathering a couple of sticks, that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.” With this situation, she had every reason not to listen to any demand on her. Being a widow, she had no one to come to her aid. And having made up her mind and laid out her plan, she did not consider any act of charity. Of course, the situation at hand did not warrant any give away! The demand for charity often breaks forth, and challenges our routine plans.

 

The prophet’s demand sounded as harsh as the hunger that ravished the land at that time. He said to her, “Fear not; go and do as you have said; but first make a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make for yourself and your son.” The sound of the demand for charity often rings as if the person asking for help does not understand what you are going through. Even if he understands your situation, the mere fact that he is asking you for help implies that he places his own needs above yours. And this can evoke resentment. That is why it is difficult to be charitable, and to persevere in charity unless guided by the grace of God.

 

Then, Elijah said to her, “For thus says the Lord the God of Israel, ‘The jar of meal shall not be spent, and the pitcher of oil shall not fail, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.’” We see that the prophet was not selfish in his demand, but equally desired her wellbeing. There is no room for selfishness in charity, both from the giver and the receiver. But human beings by nature are inclined to selfishness. That is why genuine charity can only be sustainable under the higher authority of the word of God. Inspired by the prophetic message, the widow responded swiftly.

 

At this point, charity becomes an act of faith; and faith becomes the motivator of charity. Genuine charity descends on the receiver as ‘prayer answered’, and opens up the giver to divine providence. That is why charity uplifts the heart and floods it with divine sweetness. By this the words of Jesus in the gospel of today comes alive, “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?” As salt brings out the taste in the different ingredients in a pot of soup, so does charity bring out sweetness in our lives, relationships, families, and society at large. It will brighten your day, and your jar of oil will never run dry. Amen.

Fr Jude Chinwenwa Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R

Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church,

Tedi-Muwo, Ojo, Lagos.

Tuesday June 7th, 2022.

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