Tuesday, 28th Week in Ordinary Time
“Give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you.”
Jesus, in today’s gospel, makes it clear that what makes persons unclean is not their failure to wash their hands but “plunder and evil.” The real and grave impurity consists in greed and selfishness.
Jesus teaches the Pharisee that external cleanliness without a corresponding virtue is empty of value. Almsgiving is an effective antidote to greed and selfishness. Giving to the poor cleanses everything.
Let us make this clear: Jesus is not saying that as long as we give alms to the poor we will be cleansed, even though what we give may come from doing evil like taking advantage of the weak and powerless, denying poor workers of just wage, stealing, engaging in dirty business, graft and corruption. In fact, these practices are included in what Jesus refers to as “plunder and evil” that makes a person unclean. The almsgiving that Jesus asks of us can only come from a converted and renewed heart – a heart that is reconciled with God and neighbor, a heart that has renounced every form of selfishness. This is what makes us clean.
It must also be emphasized that the kind of almsgiving referred to is not just the giving of small amount of money to the poor, but the giving of ourselves for the betterment of their situation…the generous sharing of our time, talent, and resources in the service of the lost, the last, and the least. It can be very challenging for us to give our time, energy, attention, resources, and possessions to help the poor. Such generosity can only come from a heart that is open to God, whose generosity is not only far greater than ours, but is contagious.
The various pastoral programs or mission works of our parish are a venue for generous sharing and giving. By generously sharing our time, talent and treasure to the work of new integral evangelization we are imitating the Father’s generosity as demonstrated in the gift of his Son, who in his turn gave up his life for us. Let us ask the Father for the grace to become like him. May we become generous in our love for God and in our love for one another.