“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” ~ Unknown
We all have learned about the value of charity. We know that it is important to provide for the needs of others, especially for those who are in profound need.
However, we often shy away from getting into the heart of charity. Instead of taking the time to help others in need, we may end up attempting to take the easy route and simply “throw money at the problem”. We think that, as long as we have provided material assistance, our obligation is finished.
While material assistance is necessary, if we never take the time to do the work, we never get to know those in need. If we do not know those in need, we do not know what has put them in their position in the first place. If we do not know what put them in their position of need, we cannot stop the cycle of being in need again. Our material assistance may then be nothing more than a stop-gap project.
Giving a man a fish, we have fed him but never truly come to know him or to help him. Teaching a man to fish, our world opens up incredibly because we now have a connection to that person. We know his story. We know his need.
God wants us to know others. With Jesus, it was always about connections. He never instructed us to throw material assistance at others. He instructed us to “get down and dirty” in coming to another’s needs. Pope Francis phrased it another way a few years ago when he exhorted his priests to “be shepherds living with the smell of the sheep.”
Only then will we be of true need to others. In doing so, we will also come to our own assistance because we will become more humble and more holy.
FAITH ACTION: Do not take the easy way out and merely do for someone today. Instead, take the time to teach a person what is necessary for that person to grow in the faith.