Fishing With St. James
The first directive we receive from the Ash Wednesday Gospel (Matthew 6:1-6,
16-18) is “when you give alms.” The following is from a sermon by Saint
Leo the Great (pope from 440-461) in the “Office of Readings”
Dear friends, what the Christian should be doing at all times should be done
now with greater care and devotion, so that the Lenten fast enjoined by the
apostles may be fulfilled, not simply by abstinence from food but above all by
the renunciation of sin.
There is no more profitable practice as a companion to holy and spiritual
fasting than that of almsgiving. This embraces under the single name of mercy
many excellent works of devotion, so that the good intentions of all the
faithful may be of equal value, even where their means are not. The love that
we owe both God and man is always free from any obstacle that would prevent us
from having a good intention. The angels sang: Glory to God in the highest, and
peace to his people on earth. The person who shows love and compassion to those
in any kind of affliction is blessed, not only with the virtue of good will but
also with the gift of peace.
The works of mercy are innumerable. Their very variety brings this advantage to
those who are true Christians, that in the matter of almsgiving not only the
rich and affluent but also those of average means and the poor are able to play
their part. Those who are unequal in their capacity to give can be equal in the
love within their hearts.”
This time of fasting opens the gates of heaven to us. Let us welcome it and
pray– that when Easter comes we may share the joy of the risen Lord.