Helping Out Those in Need

The recent horrendous disasters have presented a challenge to our charitable giving that perhaps has not occurred in Christian history. The hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Tsunami, the California fires, as well as the London terrorist bombings and even going back to 9-11 at the World Trade Center have all been met with caring concern and people digging deep into their pockets to help out.

Having just finished reading How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization by Thomas E. Woods, Jr., Ph.D. and in the chapter “How Catholic Charity Changed the World” it was revealed that from the beginning of the Church, Christians, contrary to the culture of the period they lived in, helped out those in distress or need.

The first paragraph tells us:

“In the early fourth century, famine and disease struck the army of the Roman emperor Constantine. Pachomius, a pagan soldier in that army, watched in amazement as many of his fellow Romans brought food to the afflicted men and, without discrimination, bestowed help on those in need. Curious, Pachomius inquired about these people and found out that they were Christians. What kind of religion was it, he wondered, that could inspire such acts of generosity and humanity? He began to learn about the faith-and before he knew it, he was on the road to conversion.”

Reading further in the Chapter, I found that even before the Fourth Century, in the early beginnings of the Church when most of the people who surrounded Christians were their enemies and they were being persecuted, it was grudgingly acknowledged by the pagan writer Lucian (130 – 200) that “The earnestness with which the people of this religion help one another in their needs is incredible. They spare themselves nothing for this end. Their first lawgiver put it into their heads that they were all brethren!”

What a glorious tradition is ours and we carry it on today ever mindful of the words of our first lawgiver, Jesus, to ‘love one another’ and to ‘love our neighbor as ourselves’.