"We gather in faith..."

Teaching and commentary from our pastor, Bishop Francis J. Christian

Reflections

Each Lent Christians are called upon to practice the

ancient discipline of almsgiving during this Holy

Season. We are reminded that the attraction of

material riches of which so many in our world make

an idol, and that, almsgiving helps us overcome this

constant temptation, teaching us to respond to our

neighbor’s needs and to share with others whatever

we possess through divine goodness. Joseph

Cardinal Zen, the bishop of Hong Kong, shared with

the people of his Diocese how Lenten almsgiving

saved his family from hunger. When he was a child

living with his parents in Shanghai during the 2nd

world war, his father was ill and out of work due to a

stroke. There were seven children in the family. One

snowy day, all had stayed in bed trying to stay warm

and all were wondering whether there would be any

rice to eat that day. Even though the souls of his

plastic shoes were cracked, his father urged Joseph to

get up and go and serve mass as he did every

morning. And his father added, “May God give us

our daily bread.” After mass as Joseph was ready to

race back home, an elderly man approached him and

inquired about his father, saying that he had not seen

him at mass for some time. Joseph explained about

his family situation and the man took him to his

home and took out a stack of money, counted it,

wrapped it up and handed it to Joseph. He said,

“Take good care, and bring this to your father.”

With this money, the family had enough money to

buy food for several months. The family was saved

from ruin by the almsgiving of this man, only really

an acquaintance, but someone who saw in Joseph’s

father and family brothers and sisters in Christ for

whom he had to care. Like this elderly man, may we

take to heart the Pope’s reminder that Lent is a

perfect time for helping the poor with the sole

intention of seeking God’s glory.