In 1950, Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity with twelve workers in Calcutta, India. They expanded their work to 4,500 workers around the world. She said that she came to “Extend charity to the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who felt unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society.” Actually, that sounds a lot like Jesus, “...the Sunrise who visited us from on high revealing the tender mercy of our God” (Luke 1:78, 79). He declared in His first sermon that He came to “proclaim good news to the poor, liberty to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18, 19). While good works do not allow us to earn His favor, they indicate "His workmanship in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:10).
“Charity” has become a catch-all term to describe non-profit organizations that help the poor. The word comes from two Latin terms for affection and dear. Truly, we are to show love to all this Christmas. There are some who may not look poor but are very needy, who may not be homeless but are in need of God’s Forever Family of a local church. The good news of Christ’s coming, death, and resurrection gives hope. Our giving of time, talents, and treasure express His love.
Mary and Joseph had been “shunned by everyone,”as Mother Teresa described. But God had a plan for them as He does for us. Our church is not like the “inn” of Luke 2:7. But it is a place that welcomes the lost, the last, the least, and the little. Our Naples Christmas Celebration has been used by God to say to our community that there is room and rest because of our Redeemer. As the King James Version translated 1 Corinthians 13:13, “The greatest of these is charity”. Let’s continue to “spread the love,” not just overseas, but maybe just across the street.