Did you ever offer to help someone who firmly rejected your offer to help? If so, how did you feel? Conversely, how did you feel when you were able to be of assistance to someone? Maybe you helped a person carry a load or cook a meal or drive somewhere. No doubt this act of charity warmed your heart, made you happy, and perhaps let you feel a bit proud! When we accept someone’s offer to help us, we cause these same positive feelings in them. This is an act of charity. However, being strong, independent Americans, we tend to reject other people’s offers of help. We say, “No, thank you,” or “I can manage, thank you.” By doing this, we deprive them of their chance to do a good deed. We are like Peter who protested to Jesus at the Last Supper, “You will never wash my feet!”
Allowing someone to do something for us requires humility. It is an acknowledgement that we are in need. We are reluctant to ask for favors. The blunt truth is that, yes, we do sometimes need help, and refusing to accept it only makes our lives more difficult. Right now I’m focused on marketing my books. There are more than eighty now, mostly on spirituality and faith formation. One by one they are going out of print, which is discouraging because not everyone who might benefit from them is aware that they exist. The problem is that most marketing nowadays is via social media, and I’m still in the dinosaur age when it comes to technology. Besides, I would rather be writing than learning how to make podcasts, youTube videos, and e-newsletters! So these days I am going around asking people for help.
Jesus himself wasn’t able to carry his cross to Calvary. He needed Simon of Cyrene’s help. And Jesus was so grateful to the woman who darted from the crowd to wipe his bloody, sweaty face with her veil that, according to tradition, he left an image of his face on it. If the Son of God accepted help, shouldn’t we? When pregnant Elizabeth realized that her young relative Mary had come to help her, she didn’t say, “What are you doing here? You should be at home making sure that you and the Messiah within you are safe.” Instead Elizabeth graciously accepted Mary’s help and both women benefited. And we did too, for now we can look to Mary as our model for extraordinary acts of charity.
It is also an act of charity to accept gifts. So what if the last thing you need is another book, or that picture someone gives you is really ugly? No matter, smile and say, thank you. (Your mother probably taught you that.) You can always re-gift it!
When did you last experience good feelings that arose from being helped? or from helping?