Charity begins at home but it does not end there

Published December 12, 2021, 12:05 AM

by Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD


Fr. Bel San Luis

The message of this 3rd Sunday of Advent is – “Gaudete,” a Latin word which means “rejoice” or “be joyful.” That’s why the liturgical color is pink. Incidentally, it’s the color of a presidential candidate in the 2022 national election.

With the birth of Christ, the Messiah, the gospel tells us to be “joyful in hope” because the Messiah has redeemed us when he came in that momentous first Christmas day.

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John the Baptist exhorts us also that our joyful Christmas should be translated into concrete acts of love. It’s not enough to rejoice. We should also do something tangible and concrete, reaching out to the needy and less fortunate.

John, the herald of Christ, was asked for guidance: “What must we do then?” (Lk 3:10).

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The Baptist’s answer was simple and direct. “If anyone has two tunics, he must share with the man who has none. And the one who has something to eat must share” (Lk 3:11). Then, to those who were using their positions of power to exploit, cheat and intimidate people, John said, “Reform!” Your faith must be productive for “the unproductive tree is cut down and thrown in the fire” (Lk 3:9).

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This is also true with our talents and wealth. They must be used not only for oneself or circle of loved ones but also shared with the less fortunate. As the dictum puts it, “Charity begins at home.” Yes, but it does not end there.

Elizabeth Ann Seton, a rich widow and a convert to Catholicism, established a religious community dedicated to the care of the children of the poor. This was the first congregation of religious sisters founded in the United States, and its school was the first free Catholic School in America. Known as “Mother Seton,” she died at the age of 46 and was canonized by Saint Pope Paul VI on Sept. 14, 1975.

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Fr. Flavie Villanueva, SVD, my confrere, has, a center called “Kalinga” which takes care of children whose mother or father was a victim of the “tokhang” or EJK (extra judicial killing). Kalinga also provides food for street children.

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Then, there’s the missionary congregation of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, now a saint, that’s caring for the poorest of the poor worldwide.

There are numerous others who exemplify works of mercy. The gospel today tells us to be joyful. Yes, but let’s not forget to reach out to the less fortunate during this hard time in any way we can.

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We could visit or call a sick relative or friend, contribute love offerings for the support of orphanages and houses for the handicapped, volunteer catechetical work to prisoners and poor school children, console the lonely and bereaved.

Remember: “Faith, without works, is dead” (St. James 2:14).

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The lighter side. I’ve never realized how bad the economy was until I spoke to Sta. Claus on the cell phone. During our chat, I asked: “Santa, how’s Rudolph, the reindeer?” He said, “Delicious!”

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An ill-prepared college student taking an economics exam just before Christmas vacation wrote on his paper, “Only God knows the answers to these questions!” The professor graded the papers and wrote this note: “God gets 100, you get 0. Merry Christmas!”

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Give love. In the spirit of Christmas, let’s support our seminarians. They are our future priests, missionaries, and bishops. We cannot have them if we don’t support seminarians now.

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Chip in an amount or sponsor a seminarian’s schooling for one year. Let’s reach out, also, to some indigent sick I’m helping: Marylou M., Jacky L. sick of severe asthma, vulnerable to COVID virus; five-year-old leukemia patient Alison Lira.

For inquiry, e-mail me at: [email protected]