It’s true! There is more joy in giving than in receiving


We have just celebrated Thanksgiving and the air is now filled with Christmas music, special offers and sales. This materialistic culture invites us to buy and buy the latest, newest thing. However, this Advent season can also be a time to share our time, talents, and treasure with others.
In his recent homily for the World Day of the Poor, Pope Francis challenged us to multiply love by helping the poorest and asked us the following question: “What path will we take in our lives: the path of Jesus, whose very life was a gift, or the path of selfishness? The path with hands open towards others in order to give, give of ourselves, or that of closed hands so that we have more things and only care about ourselves?”
In his message, the Holy Father used the parable of the talents in the Gospel of Matthew, where three men find themselves with enormous wealth in their hands, thanks to the generosity of their master who leaves for a long journey. “That master will come back one day and summon those servants, trusting that he might rejoice with them on how they had made his wealth increase and bear fruit,” the pope said.
This parable applies to us and our lives, for God has given each of us different talents and one day, he will ask us to give an account of the use we have made of them in serving others.
Sharing our time with someone who is lonely, who may have lost a family member, or visiting those who are ill can be a great grace and blessing. I experienced this firsthand, as my dad is in delicate health after having three strokes, and is recovering in a rehabilitation center half an hour from my home. My younger brother and I take turns to visit him every day. Three or four times a week, I get up earlier to have breakfast with him. The visits comfort him, give him peace, put a smile on his face, and help him to not feel lonely or abandoned.
You may know people in your parish community who have stopped coming to Mass because they are sick; it would be a great blessing to visit them and give them a little of your time.
God has given us different gifts and talents and asks us to make good use of them by multiplying them. Are you serving in a ministry in your parish community or in an agency that helps the poor in your community?
Parishes can be a vehicle for you to offer your talents, perhaps as a lector, Eucharistic minister, member of the choir or serving in the hospitality ministry, in the food bank, soup kitchen. One might accompany the youth group, mentor young mothers, or participate in a prayer group or ecclesial movement. But above all, serving with your example of Christian life, so that wherever you go, the people you meet will see in you the light of Christ and will want to join your community of faith, not because of what you say, but because of your witness of life.
In our parishes, we have instruments to help the poor in our communities. Still, we cannot forget those around the world who live in extreme poverty and also need our help. The U.S. bishops founded Catholic Relief Services after World War II to help refugees from the war. Today, U.S. Catholics serve the poor through this agency in more than 115 countries. Perhaps in your city, there is a local CRS group or chapter, where you, too, can share your time, talent, and treasure.
Finally, God calls us to share our financial blessings and our treasure with others.
This Advent, I would like to challenge you to adopt a poor or immigrant family needing our help. A tradition can be to look for a family to adopt, buying gifts for the children and perhaps a basket of necessities.
A few years ago, our pastor started an awareness campaign about our offerings, promoting giving God our first harvest in thanksgiving for all the blessings we receive. One way to do this is perhaps to divide a tenth of our income by giving a significant portion to the parish, another portion to the annual diocesan Catholic Charities campaign, and a final portion to help other charities or people around you who are in need.
Silvio Cuéllar is a writer, liturgical music composer and journalist. He was coordinator of the Hispanic Ministry office and editor of El Católico de Rhode Island newspaper in the Diocese of Providence.