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The essence of charity at International day of charity


Bishop Matin Uzoukwu (centre) with Rev. Fr. John Damian during Bishop Uzoukwu’s visit to the orphanage of the Holy Spirit, Maryland Egoro Amede, Ekpoma, Edo State.

Charity is a transformational force, a liberating word and indeed the most powerful and most influential word. Through charity, we are liberated from the bondage of selfish, tribalism and self-centered stagnation. Charity is the only channel through which we demonstrate our power of giving. It is the only force that can bring about the long expected transformations in our society. Through charity, we are not just influencing the lives of others; we are also becoming influential in the midst of others. Our strength lies in giving, whereas our weakness lies in greed and grabbing.

St. James describes charity as the essence of pure religion. According to him, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress…” (James 1:27). Charity is, therefore, the only way to ascertain whether one’s religion is authentic or not. Pope Francis describes charity as the soul of the Church mission: “Charity is at the heart of the Church, it is the reason for its action, the soul of its mission.” Just as human beings cannot exist without a soul, the church cannot exist without charity.

The Qur’an recommends charity for those who are facing hardship: “And if someone is in hardship, then let there be postponement until a time of ease. But if you give from your right as charity, then it is better for you, if you only knew” (Surah 2:280). Surah 3:92 went as far as stating that good reward is for those who are willing to spend in the way of Allah, which is the way of charity: “Never will you attain the good reward, until you spend in the way of Allah from that which you love. And whatever you spend – indeed, Allah is knowing of it.” Every act of charity must be rewarded especially by Allah.

Considering the importance and indispensable role of charity and also in commemoration of the death anniversary of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the woman who spent her life caring for the poorest of the poor, the UN General Assembly has declared September 5th, the commemoration of the death anniversary of Mother Teresa, as International Day of Charity. With this declaration, the UN encourages charity donations in order to highlight the importance of charity.

While commenting on the gospel of Matthew 25:31-40 Mother Teresa, the woman whose name is identical with Charity, declares, “At the end of our lives, we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made or how many great things we have done. We will be judged by: I was hungry and you gave me to eat. I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless and you took me in. Hungry, not only for bread— but hungry for love. Naked, not only for clothing — but naked of human dignity and respect. Homeless, not only for want of a home of bricks — but homeless because of rejection. Only in heaven will we see how much we owe to the poor for helping us to love God better because of them.” For Mother Teresa, therefore, charity according to our Lord Jesus Christ is the basis of our final judgment.

In a nutshell, Charity is the channel through which we encounter God through our fellow human beings. It is the key that locks the gate of poverty and opens the gate of prosperity. It is the chain that closes the gap between the poor and the rich. Above all, it is the force that closes the gate of hellfire and opens the gate of heaven. With charity, your salvation is guaranteed and it shall be well with you in Jesus name – Amen!

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John Damian
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