Show your faith through action

It has been said that when we keep something we don’t need or use we are stealing it from the poor.

Over the last few months I have found myself faced with the daunting task of sorting through my late husband’s clothes, as well as some of my own. I soon discovered that I had clothes that I hadn’t worn in months, if not years! I tried to make it a priority to concentrate on winter clothes, since even the poor have little use for cotton T-shirts and shorts in December. After going through a few boxes and checking shelves, I found that I probably have almost as many pairs of gloves and knit caps as I did when my kids were little. Admit it, even here in mid-Wisconsin the only extra knit cap one really needs is an orange one, in case you decide to take your dog for a walk during hunting season!
I recall a cartoon in the New York Times a few years ago. A group of street people were huddled together, warming their hands over a small fire in a garbage can. The caption under the cartoon read: “It’s winter — time for the rich ladies to go through their closets and give us their old summer clothes.”

“If a brother or sister has nothing to wear … but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it?”(Jas. 2:15-16) The message is clear. It is one thing to say I have faith but quite another to act on it. Do I believe that Christ is truly present in each and every human being and that each is my brother or my sister? I say I do — but do my works reflect that? Do I believe that I am created in the image of a loving God? I say I do — but do I love unconditionally as God loves? Do I love those people gathered around that small fire in a slum in New York City? Do I love enough to give back to the poor what is properly theirs? What do my works say about my faith?

Van Benthem is a member of the Secular Franciscan Order and a longtime pastoral minister, retreat leader, spiritual director and published writer and poet.