For those of us who are Catholics, today is Ash Wednesday, which marks the start of the Catholic Lenten season that ends with Easter. Most people associate Lent with the idea of giving up something, or making some sacrifice. Typical “sacrifices” include giving up chocolates, ice-cream, new shoes, or some other self-indulgent thing. But few of us remember that there are two sides to this coin, and that is to GIVE. As part of the Lenten Program, Caritas (a Catholic charitable organisation active around the world) asks us to give through its Project Compassion program. The season lasts six weeks and each week we are told a story of someone from a different part of the world: Nepal, Democratic Replublic of Congo, Bolivia, Samoa, Vietnam (a beautiful country which I visited only last November), and closer to home, Western Sydney.
I must admit, every year, as I have got older, I blindly put my money into either the Project Compassion collection box or in the weekly envelopes without giving too much thought to what I was doing. But today, the homily our priest gave was all about giving and sharing. He told a story of a little boy he met recently in South Africa who was looking through the garbage for food. So he bought the boy some bread and the boy immediately looked for his friend to share his food with. What would you have done if you had been that hungry little boy? What would I have done? Probably devoured it all in one mouthful? Would you have shared? What would you have done if you had been the passer-by seeing the little boy digging through trash for food?