The virtue of Charity is also known by the name of Love, used interchangeably throughout theological and scriptural texts, because love expressed in a charitable manner is that of self-giving love; the giving of your time, talent and treasure to your neighbor. Charity is defined as loving God for God’s sake, along with the love of neighbor in the same manner and to the same extent that we love ourselves. This definition falls in line with the biblical passage, where Jesus addresses the Pharisees:
“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the First Commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39).
There is no mincing of words here. We are called to love, without prejudice, without malice, without selfishness; for Jesus tells us “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). By doing so, we then adhere to the two Greatest Commandments.
However, we live in a world where everyone asks “What’s in it for me?” As a society, we are reluctant to give of our time, talent and treasure unless we can discern how it might benefit us, or society, in some way. When we act in this manner, we fall short of complying with the two Greatest Commandments. Let’s take an example: You see a person in need. Perhaps it’s as simple as needing a favor – maybe it is a ride to the doctor’s office. If you look at the situation at hand as if it were you in need, how would you want to be treated if you were the one in need of transportation? If when faced with requests from others we were to ask ourselves “What kind of answer would I like to hear to that question or request if it came from me?” rather than “What’s in it for me?” then we will embrace the virtue of Charity.
In our next reflection on Charity, I will share with you a very powerful prayer, almost certainly worthy of being “pinned” on Pinterest! Don’t miss it!