‘Charity makes one free’ may sound like a strange concept, yet is rooted in a grammar that is central to our human lives: the grammar of gift.
After all, one of the most desolate forms of poverty a person could experience is isolation. This is unfortunately very clear in the lives of the materially poor; sadly, however, it is not as clear in the lives of the materially rich – for the human person is free when he or she is open to reciprocal gift. Each human person is the absolutely gratuitous gift of God, each human person experiences hope as a gift that bursts into their life. This grammar of gift does not exclude justice, nor does it merely sit alongside it as a second element added from without; however, personal, economic, social, and political development, if it is to be authentically human, needs to make room for the grammar of gift as an expression of fraternity (see Caritas in Veritate, 34).
This is evident in the Church’s vision and mission-statement in responding to the needs of the less fortunate. The Church’s charitable works are meant to speak of God’s gratuitousness, proclaim hope, and be signs of faith and love. They are expressions of attention to those whose life is more of a struggle. They are pedagogical actions because they help the poorest grow in dignity, Christian communities walk in the footsteps of Christ, and civil society to consciously assume its obligations.
The Church in Malta holds its annual Charity Day collection today. This is an appeal for prayer and generosity in aid of the homeless children, young people and others without a family to take care of them, victims of drug addiction, people with a disability, old people and refugees being sheltered and cared for in Church homes.
It is an appeal for a profound spirit of justice and generosity to help make these institutions, along with the inner inspiration that motivates them, better able to nurture the dignity of the people they serve and the quality of the witness they radiate.