Giving and Receiving
One busy food pantry day, we were short staffed and receiving nearly double our usual number of visits. This was in addition to the usual appointments for assistance with utilities and baby supplies.
During this rush, we learned of a potential donation of goods from one of the local general merchandise stores. However, there was a condition. We had to make the pickup that afternoon.
As we approached that deadline, we began to doubt whether any of us could break away to make the trip. A woman who was finishing up her appointment for utility assistance overheard our concern and offered to make the pickup for us. She did so…. and even refused to accept gas money for the trip. She said that we had helped her, so she wanted to help us.
I was reminded of the gospel story in which Jesus relates the parable of the laborers in the vineyard.
In that story, workers are called in groups to go out into the vineyard, some in the morning, some in the early afternoon, and others later. As we know, these workers were all paid the same wage, much to the surprise and chagrin of those who worked a full day. We often struggle with this story because it doesn’t square with our limited sense of justice. But, consider the likelihood that ALL the laborers wanted to help. They ALL went to work when called.
The message here, and in the story of our generous client, is that we should not prejudge people based upon their circumstance. Those standing idle outside the vineyard were not lazy, they simply hadn’t been invited. Likewise, the person in need of our charity is not lessened as a result. When we give, it is important to understand that the giver and receiver are part of the same point of grace, that in various ways, and at various times, each one of us occupies the role of giver and of receiver. The landowner in the parable understood this. God most certainly understands this. Do we?
At Catholic Charities, we do our best to keep these messages in our minds and hearts as we go about our work. We sometimes fail, but we continue to try. We invite you to join us.
-Written by George Garchar, Executive Director of Catholic Charities Serving Portage and Stark Counties