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  • Sophia Bassous

‘Tis the Season of Almsgiving



Written by Sophia Bassous

December 21, 2023

Sophia is an OCCM member studying at the University of Central Florida


 

As we enter the fast of the Holy Nativity, we prepare our hearts and minds to joyously welcome our Savior into this beautiful world where we ought to glorify Him. With this, we unfold a cascade of cherished traditions that we are eager to prepare for and partake in, such as gift-giving.


Let us examine three parallels between giving our beloved family and friends Christmas presents and the virtue of Almsgiving: giving joyfully, giving selflessly, giving thoughtfully.


It is very unlikely that when we give gifts to those that we love most, we do it with feelings of

dreadfulness. Rather, we are excited to see the look on their faces when unwrapping a present. Similarly, in our call to give alms, our hearts are rooted with the same love Christ has for us. With joy there is love and with love there is great joy. Our unconditional love for our family and friends pushes us to go to different lengths to happily buy everything on their wish-list. Likewise, the amount of alms we give in Christ’s name is a great indication of the amount of love we have for God. While we could be restricted in monetary alms that we desire to give, St. Paul’s message in the second epistle to the Corinthians reminds us that we can cheerfully and whole-heartedly give our prayers, talents, or words during this fast for the people God calls us to serve. “Let each one as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:7). Give joyfully.


When we give gifts, the focus is on the recipient’s happiness, not the giver’s. This is an

expression of humbleness and an act of selflessness in which there is no expectation to gain

anything in return. We do not look for attention or praise. Likewise, when we give alms, we do it for the glory of God and not the glory of man. This mindset fights vainglory and pride. It allows God’s grace to be revealed to us in a pleasing manner and continuously fill us with His fruits. Giving alms requires self-sacrifice as we follow in Christ’s nature to “take the lowest place” (Lk 14:10). This selflessness must be grounded in our genuine yearning to taste God’s splendor. “Don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is doing” (Mt 6:3). Give selflessly.


Many times, the gifts we bestow hold some sort of value and meaning for the receiver. These

gifts may take various forms, such as an item they’ve been eyeing, a hand-crafted creation, or something they would not typically indulge in for themselves. Giving these gifts demonstrates personal thoughtfulness and consideration towards those we love. Moreover, the principle of almsgiving may go beyond material possessions. This symbolizes our true understanding of our calling to honor God and His people. Taking one extra step to give alms through donating, volunteering, preaching, etc., fulfills God’s longing for our service. By being gracious with alms, we recognize the dignity of God’s children and highlight their worth regardless of their circumstance. In this light, giving can transform us to reflect the boundless love of the Creator. “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly. He who sows bountifully will reap bountifully” (1 Cor 9:6). Give thoughtfully.


While it is easy to get “wrapped” up in the festivities of the Christmas season, we must remain focused on the greatest gift God gave to man– Christ. We pray to be in constant almsgiving during this season of waiting for the promised Messiah and hope to receive the blessings and rewards of the Heavenly Kingdom.



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