Today is International Day of Charity, which the United Nations has observed every September 5th for the past 6 years. The date was chosen because it’s the day Mother Teresa passed away in 1997.
While the word charity has taken on a disparaging connotation, it’s roots lie in agape, the unconditional love God has for each of us. Charity means showing God’s love to people in need.
Some people in our world are in desperate need of very tangible, practical things: medicine, clean water, nutritious food, education, clothing and shelter.
Some people have desperate emotional needs: orphans who need to belong, elderly shut-ins who need love and connection, people with chronic illnesses who need compassion.
Some people have desperate spiritual needs: millions of people need to know they matter, they exist for a reason and they are held by a Love that will never let them go.
As followers of Jesus, today is a reminder of what we’re supposed to be up to in this beautiful but very broken place we live.
It’s a reminder that Jesus didn’t call us to build walls or demonize minorities or push political agendas or create a solid voting base or create a country where we feel like we belong more because we make other people belong less (or not at all).Jesus didn’t say that the world will recognize us because of our political affiliation or voting record. Jesus says what the world should recognize us for is our love: the love that motivates us to care for orphans and widows, to practice hospitality, to embrace the immigrant and refugee, to give generously, to love and pray for and bless our enemies, to see everyone on the planet as a neighbor who is as precious and loved by God as we are.
International Day of Charity is an opportunity to remember the love God’s shown to us.
It’s an opportunity to remember the love we’re called to show to the world.
It’s an opportunity to remember that each of us is here for a reason, with a unique purpose and a special gift we’re meant to contribute to the world.
It’s an opportunity to remember that together we can make our world a little less broken and a little more healed one hug, one smile, one dollar, one kind word, one compassionate act at a time.