A Lesson on Generosity

Today as I was walking to meet a friend for brunch, I caught myself looking at the elderly men and women selling tissue packets near the train station and I was so overwhelmed with emotion thinking about the relative poverty that my fellow Singaporeans were facing. It was too much for me (someone who actually had money to give away) to deal with… So, I reacted in the only way I knew how: I didn’t give any money, I smiled and walked on, throwing all emotions to the wind.

Two hours later, I found myself with a lost wallet. I immediately went into a “OMG! I could have given the cash to all those who needed it” mood.

So I prayed (with St. Anthony of Padua’s intercession) and said, if I found it, I’ll give the money in my wallet to whoever needed it.

I did find it. A kind staff member at Starbucks Singapore found it and kept it in a safe for me.

And here’s the despicable bit: Seconds after I regained possession of my wallet, I caught myself debating whether or not I should really give the money away.

God, help my poor and stingy soul!
Here you are — the Creator of all things, the Giver of all life, existence Itself — dying for an insignificant person like me every single day especially when I sin against You; and here I am being stingy with the gifts you have given me, the gifts which I have in no way deserved.

I did give the money away. I didn’t need it today. Maybe the person I gave it to needed it more than me.

Back to the emotions I felt in the morning. Walking away didn’t solve anything. God gave me so much and yet I couldn’t share my gifts with others because of the hardness of my heart. I failed to be a good neighbor and I failed to see the dignity of the human person in others.
All I had to do was be the change I wanted to see in the world.

What a humbling experience, and what a lesson on charity.