Minute Meditations

The Gift of Alms

two friends on a mountain | Photo by Cornelia Steinwender on Unsplash

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11).

With passages such as we find in today’s Gospel, it’s not hard to see how Francis decided that relying on other people to provide for the brothers’ needs was a way of living out their total reliance on God.

Once when St. Francis visited [Cardinal Hugolino], and the hour of dinner was at hand, he went out for alms, and returning, placed some of the scraps of black bread on the bishop’s table.… When the dinner was finished, the bishop arose and taking the man of God to an inner room, he raised his arms and embraced him. “My Brother,” he said, “why did you bring shame on me in the house that is yours and your brothers by going out for alms?” The saint said to him: “Rather I have shown you honor, for I have honored a greater lord. For the Lord is well pleased with poverty, and above all with that poverty that is voluntary. For I have a royal dignity and a special nobility, namely, to follow the Lord who, being rich, became poor for us.” And he added: “I get more delight from a poor table that is furnished with small alms than from great tables on which dainty foods are placed almost without number.” Then, greatly edified, the bishop said to the saint: “Son, do what seems good in your eyes, for the Lord is with you.”

It is hard to depend on other people. We feel ashamed when we are in need and in turn shame those who need help from others, especially if they are “undeserving.” Francis teaches us that by learning to rely on the Lord and on the gifts we receive from others—and all is gift—we are as needy as any beggar on the street.

—from the book Lent with St. Francis: Daily Reflections by Diane M. Houdek

Lent with St. Francis


3 thoughts on “The Gift of Alms”

  1. Arlene B. Muller

    My thought is that when we rely on the LORD He provides in various ways so we don’t have to beg or become dependent upon people, but some of his provision is through other people.
    Between the time my Mom passed away & the time her house was sold I went through temporarily very difficult financial times. GOD provided friends who took me out to dinner & refused to let me even pay the tip. He provided jewelry & coins I found when I was cleaning out the house & a place to redeem them for cash. GOD provided an app on my phone for 7 Eleven for inexpensive meals. And he provided a patient landlady who knew I was honest & faithful who was willing to wait 10 months for me to delay paying rent, & when I finally had my inheritance from the sale of my parents’ house I paid her in full and voluntarily added 10% interest. GOD provided an insurance policy that I previously never knew I had so I could pay bills, which included the property insurance, the real estate taxes & the water bills for my parents’ house, a friend who loaned me money that I paid back in full when I got my inheritance, & I also used my credit cards & one month the credit card company subtracted the interest.
    Now that I have my inheritance my credit cards are paid in full & I have been able to be a means of GOD’S provision for family members, friends & various charities.
    I did not have to resort to begging or to being dependent upon the government. GOD provided.

    1. Mike Reininger

      Arlene, even if you did end up dependent on the government, so what? You do what you have to do, if things ever got to that. There are a lot of people in our society that run out of money as a result of living very long lives, something many people don’t expect.

      When my mom died, she owed a lot of money to her creditors, but some of those creditors didn’t bother trying to recoup that money for whatever reason which left some money for her heirs as a result. I was a little amazed how that played out. It will be interesting to see how things end up in my own life from here on out. Only God knows what will happen, and He isn’t saying, other than the many things He revealed to my dad via Blessed Fr. Kelly years ago. My dad didn’t then relay everything to me, but a few tidbits. Almost all of those things have come to pass. I still wonder whether my life really would have been better had I stayed with my uncle like Blessed Fr. Kelly recommended. How could my life have been better? My life right now isn’t all that bad. Granted, that some things are missing, but how important are those, I continue to ask? I guess it all depends upon to what extent I value the goods things that have occurred. For example, had I chosen the other path, then the book I self-published probably wouldn’t exist, at least not the way it currently is made.

  2. Lord Jesus Christ, our hearts is cold. Make it warm, compassionate, and forgiving towards all, even those who do us harm. May we only think and say what is pleasing to you and be of kind service to all we meet. Amen.

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