One dimension of Lent that tends to get pushed to the side is the practice of almsgiving. While the primary reason for fasting during Lent is to draw us closer to God, another reason is to join ourselves in solidarity with those who are unable to feed themselves every day. In a similar way, just as fasting can teach us solidarity with the poor and needy, so too can almsgiving. Like fasting, almsgiving is another way of saying we are no different from anyone else and that we all need to support one another.
The gospel teaches that everyone who is able to provide for his or her personal needs has a responsibility to help out and support those who can’t. The amount we give is an individual decision; after all, the poor widow was blessed for giving only two small coins, but the real question is the state of our hearts when we give.
God loves the poor. He hears their cry and he shares in their pain. This is why Our Lord tells us: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” (Matthew 25:35-36).
Throughout its pages, Scripture challenges all of us to use our earthly treasures to build up the kingdom of God and to spread his love to all in need.