A clarion call to ALL CHRISTIANS to give!!!
There have been several arguments concerning the ease or difficulty of getting into the kingdom of heaven. While some are of the opinion that it requires us to follow certain religious traditions and practices judiciously, others believe that it is a personal thing between you and God and therefore might not necessarily need the attention and/or approval of others. A certain priest (in a homily) once said that it has been laid bare in the Bible but that even many struggle to see or even understand it. Shockingly, we all know the song related to that part of the Bible and some of us sing it with ease but the real question here is: Do we practice the contents of this song we all sing all love so well?
The very popular song “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers…” is an excerpt from Mt. 25:31-46. Interestingly, narrative in this passage of the Bible is themed Final Judgment (Please, read the passage). This song has been adopted as anthem by certain groups in the Catholic Church; most notably Society of St. Vincent de Paul. However, the song (and by extension the passage) contain simple instructions of what is expected of us as Christians. In other words, they contain basic factors on which we will be judged on the last day.
The Church, in her wisdom, has indoctrinated the faithful with the message from this scripture by simplifying them into 7 keys (not sacraments, don’t get it twisted). They are, popularly known as the Corporal Works of Mercy; Feed the hungry, Give drink to the thirty, Clothe the naked, Shelter the homeless, Visit the sick, Visit the imprisoned and Bury the dead. In truth, they appear simple to the eyes but are mostly overlooked by a majority. This passage and teaching simply reminds us of the quote “Nobody is so poor that he has nothing to give, and nobody is so rich that he has nothing to receive.”– Pope John Paul II. In other words, there is not excuse not to perform acts of charity or kindness. Some even fail right from the time they are coming for Mass by driving past and ignoring their neighbours coming with their cars empty for Mass. Shame! This brings us to the 3 Ts in giving.
The 3 Ts is a Vincentian Code used to identify Categories of giving. They are Time, Treasure and Talents. With these categories, it is clear that no human is irrelevant or useless. If you do not have, time, you would have talent or treasure (treasure here simply refers to material items; don’t start thinking as far as gold and silver). In line with the Corporal works of mercy, let’s do a simple analysis of where each one can fit in. Time/Talent: Without using much words, time and talent here refer to the ability of individuals to execute the works of charity by spending time and offering services to the needy. This can either be done individually or with a group (better as a group). The activities attached to this category are: Visit the sick, visit the imprisoned, bury the dead. Treasure: Given the fact that we have established that this does not refer to gold or silver, treasure requires us as Christians to share from the abundance of the blessings we have received. These include (and are not limited to) feeding the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless. Remember the story of the Rich man and Lazarus? (Lk. 16 19-31). According to another homily once heard, his failure was not what he did but what he failed to do. This might sound confusing for some but recite the “I confess” (the Confiteor) to yourself, you get to the point where you say: in what I have done and in what I have failed to do. Looking closely, these things do not require us to break the bank to give. It only requires us to give from our surplus or share from what we have. Some of us still make the mistake of giving like Cain (read Gen. 4:1-16). We give those things we know even we ourselves cannot use or would not appreciate. Jesus already advised in Mt. 7:12 to “do unto others as we would have them do to us…” Some might take consolation in Prov. 19:17 which says: When you give to the poor, it is like lending to the Lord, and the Lord will pay you back. While some others subscribe strongly to Lk. 6:36 which says: Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (NIV). The ultimate reward comes with the final judgment (Mt.25:31-46). If you do not know how to give, ask of Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SSVP) is an international voluntary organization in the Catholic Church, founded in 1833 for the sanctification of its members by personal service of the poor. St. Dominic’s Conference, Yaba was established is 1965.
Innumerable Catholic parishes have established “conferences” (the smallest unit of the Society) most of which affiliate with a diocesan council. Among its varied efforts to offer material help to the poor or needy, the Society also has thrift stores which sell donated goods at a low price and raise money for the poor. There are a great variety of outreach programs sponsored by the local conferences and councils, addressing local needs for social services. I was privileged to be a the Yaba Particular Council (YPC) Meeting (deanery level) and a conference could not afford N150,000 to help for a client’s eye surgery (please note, we do not refer to those we assist as poor). Here is St. Dominic’s Conference, we have our own parishioners who have needs but cannot be helped as the demands can be overwhelming. As a Society, we call on our financially capable parishioners to share from the scrap that falls from their tables. Subscribe as a benefactor. You can choose to be anonymous but please, share your treasure, we will augment it with our time/talent and together, we would have succeeded in using the 3Ts model to execute our works of charity/corporal works of mercy.
Author: Anonymous Vincentian