Compassion, Pity, Mercy

So during Lent we practice three spiritual disciplines; prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  Curious about and struggling to relate to the word “alms”, I did a little research.

The word alms comes from the Greek word eleemosyne, which means “compassion or pity,” and is itself from the word eleos, which means “mercy.” 

During this health crisis we are facing, that seems real to me and so doable. Compassion, pity, and mercy are all words I can chew on.  And, hopefully virtues I can practice. They point to being a conduit of God’s grace.  So I am asking myself as I am learning to live in this new world, how can I bless others?  

Hebrews 13:16 says:
And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Blessing others!   Almsgiving is really being a blessing to others!  Almsgiving is a way to show pity, compassion and mercy. 

So I invite you to consider starting your own LENTEN BLESSING PROJECT. Maybe each day during Lent you can purposefully perform an act of kindness, even from the confines of your home.  Who could benefit from a phone call or email?  Brighten someone’s day with a card in the mail. Do something extra special for your children or your spouse.  When I think of almsgiving this way, acting out of kindness, mercy and compassion, the word ALMSGIVING takes on a new life.  So let’s make it happen together! Put it on your calendar or use a post-it note. Put a rubber band around your wrist. Set a reminder on your phone or let Alexa ring your bell every morning with the thought. Write it down and keep a record of your blessings.  What fun it will be to see when the blessing comes full circle.  

In Matthew 25:35 Jesus said,
When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat, and when I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink. When I was a stranger, you welcomed me, and when I was naked, you gave me clothes to wear. When I was sick, you took care of me, and when I was in jail, you visited me.……..For whatever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me.”

It’s easy to take the words hungry, thirsty, naked, in prison literally, decide we really don’t know anyone in our own circle who is actually hungry or naked or thirsty.  But we are surrounded by people, even in our families who are both hungry and thirsty for meaning and purpose. People who are, especially now, lonely, sick, and tired. We are surrounded by people who long for what we can offer, a moment of blessing.  So it may do well to ask, to whom am I extending compassion, pity, and mercy this Lenten season when our world faces this difficult challenge?