Ana Patricia Non, one of the people behind the Maginhawa community pantry. (Photo courtesy of Anjo Lapresca)
If you haven’t done much giving in your life — try it and see how you feel afterwards.
— Groundswell chief-executive-officer Michelle Moore, Selling Simplified
MOST of you may have heard of the statement, “This is the meaning of true love, to give until it hurts.”
This was and still is one of the famous quotes by Saint Mother Teresa during her address to the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. on February 3, 1994.
It simple terms, it means the act of giving all that we have—be it finances or services—until the point where we feel the pain of our sacrifice.
But giving until it hurts can be easy for some people but to most, it’s hard to practice.
Personally, I find this statement very hard to live up. To explain further, Saint Paul tells us (in 2 Corinthians 9:7): “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
That phrase, ‘God loves a cheerful giver’, is very significant, especially to Christians like us, because of the word ‘cheerful’. The Greek translation for the word ‘cheerful’ means “hilarious,” and that would mean that God wants us to give joyously.
It is also clear that God doesn’t want us to give without free will or without love. It is not pain or hurt that we should be feeling, but rather making that choice to give and to give happily. If we help others with the right intentions, we will be helped as well, to reap what we sow.
One can only give if one has the ability to. Jesus constantly goes to a lonely place to pray as portrayed clearly in the Gospels. So we too, have to go to our lonely place to pray in order to obtain the ability to give. We need to place Christ in the center of our lives.
In Blessed Mother Teresa’s speech, she mentions “give until it hurts” eight times. But at the last time she says, “give until it hurts—with a smile”. She reminds people of God’s love for them and it is through His love that we can keep giving. That love is not just an encounter but it also physically given to us through the Eucharist.
The Church also teaches us that if we are to become what we receive, we are then called to grow in holiness as Catholics and to be able to offer our lives in a generous and happy way.
So, don’t give until it hurts. And don’t give in order to be admired for your generosity. Give because it reflects the loving and generous God who gave His Son, Jesus Christ, so that we would have the opportunity to be blessed and to bless others by giving.
Recently, I heard someone say: “Magbigay ayon sa kakayahan. Kumuha batay sa pangagailangan (Give what you can only afford. Get what you only need).
This is the single powerful transformative principle behind community pantries, which are spontaneously organizing all over the country.
By both addressing the giver and receiver simultaneously, the slogan, more than anything else, transforms whoever we are.
And, transformative change in people in these desperate suffocating times of widespread hunger has always been our crying hope. We yearn for a new day where our basic humanity reigns.
Our collective hopes for edifying basic humanity are now upon us, partly answered by the community pantry.
And Quezon City resident Ana Patricia Non has become “the spark who started the prairie fire.”
Yet Ms. Non insists that her endeavor is not charity but mutual aid—and she is correct in this. Mutual aid indeed is the central message of the community pantry and Ms. Non makes it very clear that mutual aid is also about us living for and caring for our communities.
It is only when we have intact in our lives a sense of community, of that of our neighbors, do we truly reclaim for ourselves the indomitable Filipino selfless spirit of loving and caring for each other that we call ‘Bayanihan.’ (AI/MTVN)