is to completely give of yourself

The word forgive is an interesting word. It is derived from the old English word forgiefen which is constructed by using the prefix “for” which means “completely” and the word “giefan” which we know as “give.” In other words it means to “completely give” something to another. In Latin, “donare” (to give) is part of the word “condonare” (to forgive) and it is the same in other languages such as German (geben/vergeben) and Norwegian (gi/tilgi.)

When we hear Jesus say “give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you” what immediately comes to mind? If you are like most of us you think of giving money to those who are in need. But is that really what Jesus is asking us to do? And is the act of giving sufficient to be cleansed?

To forgive means to completely give of oneself from within, it is alms giving in the truest sense of the word. Charlotte Joko Beck wrote “Our failure to know joy is a direct reflection of our inability to forgive. Non-forgiveness is rooted in our habit of thinking self-centered thoughts.” If we cannot see beyond ourselves we cannot forgive, we cannot completely give to others.

Jesus tells us that we must not only be clean on the outside but on the inside as well. Cyril of Alexandria wrote, “Christ shows that those who sincerely serve God must be pure and clean…from what is hidden within the mind.” A number of years ago there was a mantra that was frequently voiced, “It is better to look good than to be good.” Sadly this is how many look at alms giving; giving so as to look good rather than to be good. And how foolish is that.

A short story written by O. Henry, The Gift of the Magi, is a wonderful example of the giving that Jesus asks of us. If you have never read it, please take the opportunity to do so. It tells of a poor young couple, each with one possession in which they take pride: beautiful long flowing hair for the young woman and a shiny gold watch that had belonged to the young man’s father, and how each traded away their only possession in order to give the other something of value.

Jesus tells us that “Wherever your treasure lies, there your heart will be.” It is for us to determine what we treasure most: those of earth or those of God. Completely give of yourself and it will be a gift from God.

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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