In my last post I mentioned that there were two themes on my mind, one I wrote about, but the other is something I feel for me is important. Before we finally leave Tobit, there is something else in its 12th chapter that we need to consider. Amongst the many things Raphael told them, one important thing he said to them was that it was better to give alms than to treasure up gold, that almsgiving preserves from death, and it purifies from sin, and that those people who give alms will have a long life (Tobit 12:8-9). You see, I do not mean to underestimate us all, we all know that it is indeed good to give alms, we really don’t need a new person to tell us that. But something we may not have considered is ‘How good exactly is giving alms?’
You probably do see yourself as a charitable person, you give whenever you want, but have you stopped to consider those words of an angel of God about giving alms? Many times we hear calls to give, to be givers, and to give cheerfully and meaningfully. Most times those calls to give and their importance are drowned by the existing greed and corruption that characterize even religious systems that they cannot be trusted with ‘all we have’, or we also ask ourselves questions about the reason why such people who beg us for things cannot work for theirs or just forget about them entirely as we pass by. Yet we seriously pray and would pay so much to swindlers and people who promise us preservation from death, purification from sin and long life. This even includes Doctors, health systems, even traditional health givers and others, meaning that we want these things badly. But why can’t we follow this simple path to life viz giving.
St. Peter I remember also tells us the same thing about being charitable, it’s almost as if he read and took to heart this passage from Tobit 12. He tells us in 1 Peter 4:8 that Charity covers a multitude of sins. The truth is that Our Lord is so pleased with a heart that gives, that famous song ‘God loves a cheerful giver’ is indeed true. The Gospel passage from Mark 12:41-44 is a typical example. The woman who gave her all to God really attracted not only Our Lord’s attention but also his praise. The world is suffering from a lack of givers, our society is suffering from a lack of givers and an abundance of takers, this is why the person of Christ is eclipsed in our world, because he is not a Christ that takes, he is a Christ that says, ‘Take’. And he does that ultimately. St. Paul’s life as he describes was also poured out as a libation (cf. 2 Timothy 4:6).
Far from whatever we might gain from giving, the truth remains that we were born to be gifts, our very selves, our very lives in being Christ-like should be gifts to the world, to our families, to the poor, the sick. The question we should therefore ask ourselves is, looking at my life so far, have I being a gift? Do people thank God for my existence? For that is how we become like God, the way God made us to be: free from sin and death and living eternally. We cannot become like God and yet not give because there is no such God that is separated from that supreme act of giving.
From your friend and brother: Chibuzor F. Ogamba