Charity means all in

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

INDEED, that’s how charity is. It’s all in, irrespective of how the objects of our charity are. They may reciprocate our love for them or not, they may like us or not. On our part we should just continue to love them if charity truly dwells in our heart.

We are reminded of this truth of our Christian faith in that gospel episode where a scholar of the law asked Christ what he had to do to inherit eternal life. And Christ simply said that he had to love God with everything that he had and to love his neighbor as himself. (cfr. Lk 10,25-37)

And when asked who his neighbor was, that was when Christ told the parable about a man who fell victim to robbers in his journey and was left half dead on the road. A priest saw him but passed by. A Levite also just passed him by. But a Samaritan, who at the culture of that time had the least relation with the man, was the only one who took pity on the man. It was the Samaritan who proved to be the good neighbor to the victim.

Yes, charity is for everyone. It has a universal coverage. It’s not only for those who are right in something. It’s also for those who are wrong. It’s not only for the winners. It’s also for the losers. Not only for friends, but also for enemies!

But the universal inclusivity of charity does not do away with the exclusivity of truth. It does not do away with the distinction between good and evil, between right and wrong, between truth and falsehood. In fact, it sharpens that distinction. And yet, it still works in all that distinction.

Yes, charity is all-inclusive, though it is expressed, of course, in different ways. As they say, we have to have different strokes for different folks. And that’s simply because at the end of the day, whether we like it or not, we are all creatures and children of God, brothers and sisters to each other. We have been created by our Creator out of love and for love.

We have to realize that our life here on earth can be described as a journey toward our ultimate home, which is to be with God our Father and Creator in heaven. It will be charity that would keep us going and that would enable us to leap to the eternal supernatural life with God.

While here on earth, we have to realize that we form one body and that we are actually on the same boat. Despite our differences and conflicts, we have a common origin and a common end. We are bound to care for one another. We are meant to love one another.

Charity is what binds us together despite our unavoidable differences and conflicts. Yes, we form one body, but we are different parts of that body. We play different roles and carry out different functions.

So, we have to develop with God’s grace the true charity that is a living participation of the charity God has for everyone, including those who go against him. Let’s remember that Christ went to the extent of loving our enemies.

St. Paul describes charity in these words: “Love is patient, is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Cor 13,4-7)