Tomorrow, when we celebrate the Annunciation, we celebrate the moment when God, the King of heaven and Creator of all, saw Himself as a homeless person and made Himself a beggar. All of heaven was His throne, and the earth His footstool. And yet He asked a human being, a young woman, for shelter. And, like a beggar, He waited for her to respond.

She considered the request. This divine Beggar didn’t ask her for a few coins. He asked her to give Him her flesh and shelter Him in her womb. As God waited, she thought about what this would mean. When she said yes, in that moment, time, space, all that is and was and will be, turned inside out, and the uncontainable God was contained in her womb, for the salvation of the world.

And since that moment, when we see any human being, but especially when we see someone begging, we see God. As God waited for Mary’s gift, He waits for our gifts. And when we say yes, when we give to Him by giving to that beggar, He grants us the gift of joining the Theotokos to bring salvation to the world.

Readings on almsgiving

Mary understood that when God made a home in her womb, it changed the relationship between rich and poor. It put God clearly on the side of the poor, and against the rich. As a result, it is necessary for us to give alms. The writings of the Fathers and of other good and holy people remind us of this frequently.

If we’re not sure exactly what almsgiving ought to look like in our lives, we can find examples of almsgiving in the lives of the saints, from St. John the Almsgiver and St. Peter the Tax Collector to Mother Olga of Alaska and St. Brigid of Ireland.

We can even see examples of almsgiving in picture books, like The Quiltmaker’s Gift and Saint Nicholas and the Nine Gold Coins.

And if we need practical advice and instruction, we can get that as well:

It can be hard to see panhandlers as people, to see the face of God in the beggar with the cardboard sign. We have to learn that the hardness is in our hearts. May God soften our hearts, by the prayers of his Mother.

Read More

Implications of the Annunciation: Jesus shares his human nature with each of us. The implications of that are profound – and perhaps a little frightening.

St. John the Almsgiver: As the Scriptures command, St. John gave to all who asked, without questioning their motives or their need.

St. Brigid’s cloak and blueberry jam: The King of Leinster was wealthy and powerful, but no friend of the poor. Until St. Brigid taught him a lesson.

Charlotte Riggle, author of Catherine's Pascha and The Saint Nicholas Day Snow
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