(Isaiah 58:7-10; 1 Cor. 2:1-5; Matt. 5:13-16)
The readings from scripture today seem very appropriate for the “Catholic Charities Collection” and “life” in general! We are asked by our Archbishop to be mindful—through prayer and financial giving—of the many among us who live in dire need of help. We are reminded that orphans, the aged, single parents, minorities, those in difficulties and so many others depend upon the success of this special collection. And WE are asked to be generous!
It is telling that in the reading from Isaiah the word “deserving” is NOT present! We do NOT read “deserving hungry”, “deserving naked”, deserving homeless”, etc. God does not distinguish…He simply reveals to Isaiah and the Israelite community THEIR obligation to tend to the needs of those around them without judging the needy or how they got to be “needy”. (This does not mean we do not look for systemic changes in our laws, structures, decisions, etc. to correct these incongruities. We are called, as Catholics, to not blame our lack of concern/charity toward the needy by finding them totally responsible for their state in life—thus justifying our lack of love!)
Matthew is telling the early Christian community to make a difference in this world using “light” and “salt” as symbols of life-giving presence. Jesus, through Matthew’s Gospel, is telling His disciples what they need to focus on—GIVING—
And not on the recipients’ “worthiness” in their (or our!) estimation.
It is sometimes too easy a temptation for me, at least, to hold back on giving, whether it be “time, talent or treasure”, by deciding that the “other” is not deserving. Our readings and our Catholic Faith challenge us to go beyond “our world” and enter the world of those around us who need our financial help. So many “reasons” can quickly surface as to why we “should not give”, “can’t trust”, “need to go slow”, etc. but the simple fact is that if we are attempting to follow Christ we will respond to the needy in our Catholic Charities Collection AND in our daily lives…”LIGHT”…”SALT”…”US”!