There is greater happiness in giving than in receiving (Acts20:35)
During the sermon on the mountain (Matthew 5:1-7:29), Jesus presented the beatitudes which are teachings that proclaim the Kingdom of God and lead people to happiness and salvation. Jesus directs his words toward those men and women who are poor and who mourn, those who are gentle and just, who are merciful and pure and peaceful, who are persecuted. All of those persons will inherit the kingdom of heaven. Those promises of Jesus are intended to ease the burden of all men and women as well as to show them the path to holiness, tolerance, humility and love. Blessed are those men and women who fulfill the word of God … they will be happy and blessed.
Saint Paul complements Jesus’ message and extends the joy of the kingdom to those who give of themselves. He affirms that there is greater happiness in giving that in receiving: In every way I have shown you that by hard work of that sort we must help the weak, and keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus who himself said, “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). This new promise, as a continuation of the previous mentioned promises, gives great joy to all the members of the worldwide Vincentian Family because our fundamental purpose is the practice of charity, charity that knows no limits or boarders. Love is altruistic and is focused on others rather than one’s self. Love finds more joy in giving than in receiving … the more one gives, the more one receives.
This biblical call is focused on the loving invitation of the Father to live a life of charity, a charity that is to be extended to all the children of God. When the Scriptures use the verb “to give” they are not merely referring to giving material goods to some individual but also refer sharing spiritual goods (provide good counsel, forgive the neighbor, call one another to live and act in a responsible manner). It is also true that much will be required of the person entrusted with much (Lue 12:48). We should be attentive to this call of Jesus so that we might be worthy of our name, Christian.
When we give to those who are poor, we are giving to Jesus himself (Matthew 25:40). On the day of the final judgment, we will be judged in accord with the manner in which we acted. We have to see the face of God on the face of our brothers and sisters (1 John 4:20). To be neglectful with regard to those who are poor and weak and infirm and afflicted is to deny assistance to Jesus. A refusal to share bread with those who are hungry is to deny Jesus a plate of food. Saint Paul also tells us that what we offer to others is also an offering to God, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God (Philippians 4:18). This promise is affirmed in other Biblical passages: give and gifts will be given to you (Luke 6:38); ask and it will be given to you (Matthew 7:7-12).
To receive something from another individual is a blessing and we experience joy. Jesus has told us that the joy of giving is even better than the joy of receiving. There are countless rewards for those people who are generous because God has promised that they will be delivered from their misfortune, the Lord will guard them and preserve them and they will be consoled during times of sickness (Psalm 41:1-3). Therefore, as members of the Vincentian Family, there is great satisfaction in knowing that God loves us because of our acts of charity on behalf of those men and women who are suffering throughout the world. We are very blessed to be members of this worldwide movement, this Vincentian Family. In our activities, let us make every effort to serve the less fortunate members of our society, giving the best of ourselves, giving ourselves to the poor as their brothers/sisters, friend, and companion on the journey to the fullness of the kingdom.
Renato Lima de Oliveira
16º President General of the SSVP