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October 2006

"Truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose their reward" (Mk 9:41).

Throughout the Gospel, Jesus invites us to give: give to the poor, give to anyone who asks, who wishes to borrow; give food to the hungry, a cloak to whoever takes a coat; give freely, without charge…

Jesus was the first to give: health to the sick, forgiveness to sinners and life to us all.

In place of our instinct to grab, he puts generosity; in place of our concentration on our own needs, care for others; in place of the culture of having, the culture of giving.

It does not matter whether we can give a lot or a little. What counts is ‘how’ we give, how much love we put into even a small gesture of attentiveness to another person. At times it is enough to offer a cup of water, ‘even a cup of cold water’ is what Matthew’s gospel says, an offering particularly appreciated and needed in a country as hot and dry as Palestine.

"Truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose their reward."

Giving a cup of water is a simple gesture, yet great in the eyes of God when done in his name, done, that is, out of love.

Love has many nuances and knows how to find the most fitting ways to express itself.

Love is alert because forgetful of self.

Love is thoughtful because on seeing someone’s need, it goes out of its way to meet it.

Love goes to the essence of things, because it knows how to get alongside another person simply by being ready to listen, to serve, to be available.

Often when we are with another person, especially someone suffering, we imagine we are rendering a great service by giving our advice, which may not be opportune, or by too much chatter, which may become boring or tiring.

How important it is to ‘be’ love for each person! Being like that we find an open path into the heart of the other, uplifting him or her.

"Truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose their reward."

The Word of Life for this month can help us to rediscover the value of all we do, whether it is housework, farming, car maintenance, office work, homework, or our civic, political and religious duties. Everything can be transformed into attentive and thoughtful service for others.

Love will give us new eyes to see what others need, and love will show us how to respond creatively and generously.

What will happen? Gifts will circulate, for love calls forth love. Joy will be multiplied since ‘There is more happiness in giving than in receiving’. (Acts 20: 35)

"Truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose their reward."

I remember that during the Second World War in some parts of our city, Trent, there were some extremely poor families. We went to share with them what we had; we wanted their living standards to be improved so that all could have a degree of equality.

This simple idea brought about unforeseen results: food, clothing and medicines began to circulate in surprising abundance. We realised that the Gospel contains the answer for every personal or social problem.

And it was not merely a utopia. Nowadays, thousands of businesses are involved in a project called the Economy of Communion. Their business life is run on the principles of the culture of giving: they use part of their profits for social goals, creating new jobs and providing for the primary needs of disadvantaged people.

But the poor are many and the profits from these businesses cannot meet all their needs. Since 1994, therefore, many of us give a small amount each month for the poor. We currently help 7,000 people in 55 nations.

There are innumerable testimonies of ‘cups of water’ that have been given and received, in a contest of generosity. Here is one from the Philippines: ‘Our small butcher’s shop was failing because of an epidemic among the livestock. We had to go into debt, and we were not sure how to keep going. Through your regular support, we have managed to have enough to eat every day. Before long I realised that I too had to help those around me who were in even greater need. One of my neighbours was ill. She was in great pain and had real material needs. I helped her until she left for the next life. Afterwards, I took on the financial support of her fifth child, since her husband could not do it as he was much poorer than us.’

Chiara Lubich

See also: Mark 9:40: "Whoever is not against us is for us."

 

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