Let Jesus Guide our Hearts

“It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.”
— Mother Theresa

Three things asked of us during Lent are praying, fasting, and almsgiving.

Growing up, I always thought almsgiving was the odd one out. It seemed like our parents’ responsibility; we were just the middlemen dropping money into the bag. It seemed like the simplest task to complete; the other two took up a bit more time and effort.

One Sunday during Lent, as a child, I recalled Jesus saying, that when we give, the left hand must not know what the right hand is doing. So as offertory drew near, my right hand started to carefully extract just one coin from my pocket, while my brain and my left hand did their best to ignore. My parents saw my struggle and was thoroughly amused at their son’s naivety when I explained myself.

A reusable cup carrier done by our Caritas Young Adults

In 2014, I was overseas for work and I needed to withdraw cash from an ATM before dinner. A lady wrapped up in a thin blanket with her child sat at the side and asked me for money just as I withdrew it. As I obeyed my brain and walked away, what she said is still etched in my mind till today. “We are human too!” she exclaimed.

That incident changed me. As a young adult today, I realize that the brain and the left hand always interferes with giving. Either the brain is casting doubt and causes inaction, or the left hand empties the pocket first.

In a similar incident back home in Singapore recently, I was withdrawing cash in my neighbourhood to buy food back for the family when a lady asked me for money. This time I asked her whether she had lunch and I said, “Wait for me, I will go get you a pack of chicken rice.” As I handed her the packet of food, the puzzled look on her face told me that no one has ever done this for her. But as she started to share her situation with me, I quickly excused myself thinking that I have done my part.

Almsgiving is actually the most difficult task of the three because we are called to give without being calculative, and to give more than just money. Perhaps we can give more of what is most precious to us this Lent – our time. Don’t let our minds and our left hands guide our giving, and let Jesus guides our hearts this Lent!

Mark Tang
Chair, Caritas Singapore Young Adults Committee

These Least Brothers of Mine

On 11 July 2018, I visited Agape Village (AV) to experience the Share-A-Pot programme which happens twice a week at AV. This session was also part of the pre-Social Mission Conference programme.

Catering to the vulnerable elderly, Share-A-Pot aims to engage them through various meaningful activities: Exercise, sessions on healthy lifestyle habits, bonding games and enjoying a nutritious bowl of soup over lunch.

Personally, I was heartened to see so many elderly people participating joyfully in all the activities. Though it was just a simple programme, the lively and dynamic atmosphere created by the volunteers, clearly rubbed off on the elderly participants.

More than just experiencing improvements to their physical health, these elderly participants did feel a strong sense of belonging and solidarity with one another.

For me, seeing the many smiles on the faces of the elderly, reaffirmed my desire to be a Social Worker. In my future work, I hope that I would be as life-giving and encouraging as the volunteers I saw at the Share-A-Pot programme.

Another highlight for the day, was my experience at the Mamre Oaks’ Day Activity Centre. The centre supports adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, by engaging them with a range of activities. Every Wednesday, a baking session is organised for their members.

As it was my first time interacting closely with adults with special needs, I had to take cues from the volunteers at the centre. I realised that because I did not understand the unique behavioural needs of the adults, I could not communicate well with them.

In contrast, the staff and volunteers at the centre, who had journeyed with the adults for a longer period, were able to warmly and wholeheartedly embrace them. Through their actions, the volunteers were showing that these adults, though with intellectual disabilities, were indeed gifts from God.

While I still struggle to understand this, it was moving to know that the “least brothers of mine” were being lavished with love and care. On hindsight, there was a paraphrased quote, widely attributed to St John Chrysostom, which could be used to encapsulate my experience at AV that day.

The quote reads: “If you cannot find Christ in the beggar at the church door, you will not find him in the chalice.”

This reminds me that Christ is indeed present in everyone, especially the weak and the vulnerable. Also, as much as I thought that I was the one in the position of giving, God was the one meeting me through the people I met at AV that day.

God was doing something for me. He was showing me my unique path to find joy, charity and hope. I hope that my desire to be a Social Worker will glorify Him! — Ryan Ng

“And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:40 During my semester break as an undergraduate Social Work student at the National University of Singapore (NUS), I decided to intern at Caritas Singapore. My internship gave me the opportunities to experience first-hand the Church’s social services for vulnerable groups.