Practicing Charity

During this Christmas season, charity is the most important thing. Jesus came to show us what it means to give of oneself completely; He became small in order to enter that place that we had prepared in our hearts. He came to give us that kiss of innocence which increases charity within us. 

The first step we can practice charity is through an offering. We can offer everything we have and especially what we are. It is a wonderful act, where we are sacrificing what we “have and own,” as Saint Ignatius of Loyola said, for our neighbor and for God. It also requires us to watch for the needs of others so that we can give them what they need before they ask us. That attitude of vigilance for the good of the people around us and what God could ask of us is very healthy and makes us a true image of the Lord.

A step further is the situation when someone asks us for something. You may wonder why this situation is more valuable than the first. The answer is simple: it requires more love. In the case of the offering we can think about it more, we are guided not only by a love already internalized, but also by the will and the understanding. However, when they ask us for something, what's at play is the level of our self-giving, the love we have for the other person, without thinking, without understanding. The more love we have for ourselves and the less we have for our neighbor, the more difficult it will be for us to comply with the request. One thing is to offer, but even when the other person takes what we offer them, we often feel that they are taking something away from us. It's as if we really hadn't been willing to give it; and that is precisely the reason why we should always comply with requests. How can we practice and grow in that self-giving and brotherly love? Always offering what we have and what we're lacking, being attentive to others.

The last and most excellent level of charity is when something is unfairly taken from us or taken without thinking about our good. It is the most excellent, because love is pure. We love the one at fault so much that we are willing to forget our legitimate rights, because we know that it will make us more like Christ. It is the complete self-giving. This love so purified towards those around us takes us directly to the One who is Love. It elevates our soul to Him who loves us to such an extent that He gave his Son, who died for us, despised, unjustly crucified. The more it affects us and the more it humbles and hurts us, the more it will sanctify us if we offer it to God. We must love him very much because he makes us equal to Jesus.

Many times we cannot clearly see why we should act like this. I only know that if my Lord did it, I want to do it too.