The Virtue of Deed and Word: Charity
Charity is one of those virtues that is easier said than done. It is one of those virtues that, for me personally, is one that I must pray for constantly. It is guaranteed that we will meet people that hate Jesus and his Church. This comes with being part of Christ’s Church. The Catechism calls charity “the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God” (CCC 1822). It is a Theological virtue, which means that it comes from God.
We can recognize Charity in many different ways. It can be seen in giving goods to those who need it, like donating food or money to good causes. Another form is in the donation of our time when we volunteer at our parishes or in our community. Being charitable is in giving without expecting anything in return. More importantly, it is giving in order to build the Kingdom of Christ and serve God.
One way to be charitable that many people don’t recognize is in Evangelization. It is one of the hardest ways to be charitable, as it requires discipline, patience, love, and grace. Being charitable in word is speaking with love rather than anger. It is listening carefully to the views of another in order to understand them better. It is giving that person the whole truth to the best of your ability, and if you are unable to answer a question, ensure them you will seek out the answer and get back to them as soon as you know. St. Jose Maria Escriva summed up this kind of mentality quite simply : “Don’t judge without having heard both sides. Even persons who think themselves virtuous very easily forget this elementary rule of prudence.”
Other ways of being charitable include being understanding towards another person and not judging them harshly. If you criticize a person uncharitably, it might be taken as insult and the person you are speaking to may not want to engage in the conversation anymore, or they may feel threatened. People may also feel as though we are taking a ‘ Holier than thou’ attitude, and is instantly an annoyance. According to St.Thomas Aquinas, “We are to love our neighbor out of charity, even if he be a sinner. We must hate sin, yet we must love the person who sins, wishing him repentance, pardon, and eternal life, for God’s sake”(Summa Theologica). We must be humble and acknowledge our own weaknesses. People are more likely to want to have discussions rather than arguments. When personal accusations are brought into a conversation, it can become one big mess, and the attempt to share the Gospel can be thrown off course.
Many people do not want to hear about the Gospel. It is often viewed with contempt, anger, hatred, or is avoided at all costs. Christ’s mercy goes beyond those emotions though, and He yearns for each of us out of love. We have a responsibility to make an effort to lead people to Christ. We must pray for them, and for ourselves, so that we may have strength in a world that wants everything by Truth. We must not be afraid. Jesus tells us why:
“If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘Servants are not greater than their master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not have sin. But now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. It was to fulfill the word that is written in their law, ‘They hated me without a cause.’ (John 15: 18-25)