That’s how our charity should be. It should not just be a consequence of purely human empathy, sympathy and compassion, although these help a lot in living charity. It should not just be a matter of human altruism and philanthropy. These are already good signs of charity, but they are not enough.
Such kind of charity cannot go the distance, cannot cope with all the tests and challenges of real charity. It cannot be universal and abiding. It would highly be selective and even discriminatory in its bestowal. It can only work during fair weather or when conditions are found to be conducive. When unfavorable conditions come, it would flee and disappear, and can even turn into anger and hatred.
A faith-driven charity is the charity that is based on God’s love for us. It is a universal and abiding kind of love, and can go all the way to loving the enemies, to be willing to sacrifice for the others, including offering one’s life for the others, as exemplified by Christ himself and imitated by the martyrs.
It is a charity that is never discriminatory, although it can be very discriminating in showing it, giving out one’s best in any given situation. It is a total self-giving, freely given without counting the cost or expecting any reward and completely rid of ulterior motives. It’s never a calculating kind of self-giving. With this charity, though only a humanly insignificant gesture is done, still it is done with one’s whole heart.
We have to examine ourselves to see if we are approaching this fully human and Christian ideal of charity. We cannot deny that this kind of charity can only be a result of a vital identification with Christ. It can only be a result of our faith in God, in our full correspondence to God’s grace. As such, it is going to be a lifelong pursuit and struggle for us to live it.
When our charity is inspired and driven by our Christian faith, we would not mind if in living it we do not understand many things, if we would find ourselves inconvenienced and having to go through a lot of sacrifices and self-denials. We would just do it because Christ said so, commanding us to love one another as he himself has loved us.
If we do not have faith, there is no way we can live such kind of charity that is commanded of us by Christ. We would consider it as stupidity. We cannot understand the real meaning of generosity, magnanimity, mercy and compassion. We cannot understand the paradoxical teachings of Christ—that we need to die to live, to lose to win, to give to receive, etc.
How can we, for example, understand why we have to love our enemies, why we have to offer the other cheek when we are slapped on one cheek, why we have to walk two miles if we are challenged to walk one mile? In human terms, these would just be crazy ideas.
Let us try our best that our charity is always animated by our Christian faith. Let us follow the example of all the saints, foremost of whom would be Our Lady who, even if she did not fully understand how can Son of God can be conceived in her womb by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, just said, “Be it done to me!”*