The third element of making a holy Lent is Almsgiving.
“Alms” is the traditional term for money or material aid given to a poor person; we see people in the Gospels and Acts begging for alms (St. Peter said to one such person: “silver and gold, I have none, but what I do have, I give to you: In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, rise and walk!”).
Giving alms is giving to the poor, doing acts of charity for those who are less fortunate than we are. St. John Chrysostom said that everyone can give alms — just think of the poor widow who put her two pennies (really, two tiny pieces of copper, called “mites”) into the offering box in the temple! No matter how poor we might be, there is always someone who needs our assistance. And our offering doesn’t have to be monetary — how about spending time in service to someone who is sick or shut-in? How about preparing food for a poor family? Even a kind word to a stranger can be seen as a form of “alms” (and I have heard of homeless people who have said that the worst thing about being homeless is being ignored — people walking by as if they don’t even exist). Giving of time, talents or treasure can be considered almsgiving.
During this holy season of Lent, look for some way in which you can increase your almsgiving; find someone who you can serve in love — seeing and serving Jesus in “his distressing disguise of the poor” (St. Teresa of Calcutta).
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