We’re not told in today’s first reading how the lame beggar felt the next morning, when he woke up and realised that he no longer had a job. Perhaps he’d learned skills before he was lame that he could now turn to? We can trust that, filled with the Spirit as they were, John and Peter gave the lame man what he needed.
I think, though, that those of us who are not saints need to be careful about the charity we give and the charities we support. It’s far too easy to make judgements about what people need, and insist that they take it. The best aid stories I’ve heard have involved the Western aid agencies setting aside their preconception and working with the communities they try to help to find out what the communities perceive their needs to be.
My beloved and I won $78 dollars on the Lotto last week, which led us to talk about what we’d do with the current big prize (which is several million). We agreed we’d like to see it used effectively at a local community level – some in our family, some in New Zealand, and some overseas. We’d like to have more money to give to one of the causes we care passionately about – such as freedom for slaves, education for girls and women, access to clean water and to safe housing, protection from violence. But we wouldn’t want to just hand over money without being sure that the actions were grassroots actions – local initiatives arising from local needs supported by local effort and structured in a way that local people can become independent of external help.
To me, that’s love in action. Helping people to rise up and walk.