A Friend’s Perpetual Need

Matthew 5: 38-42
1 Kgs 21: 1-16 / Psa 5

Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.
(Matthew 5:42)

Whenever one comes to borrow
We should never refuse to lend;
Who knows where you’ll be tomorrow?
Be glad you’re in the giving end.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:38-42)

Reflection

Christ’s message of charity is a recurring theme in all of the four Gospel books. It is because He is the embodiment of the word itself. In fact, love is the common thread that binds all of Holy Scriptures.

Love means never having to take revenge on your enemies. “When someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.” (Mt.5:39) It also means going beyond the call of duty in order to serve perfectly. “Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles.” (Mt.5:41) And hardest of all for many of us, love also means never refusing anyone who comes to beg for money.

What does one do when a friend or even just a casual acquaintance comes to ‘borrow’ money for his needs, and the visits become a regular habit (spaced long enough to give you time to earn or save)? An old friend from my boyhood days named Bong surprised me with an unexpected “courtesy call” with his wife one Monday morning. Ashen-skinned and looking much older than his age, he told me that his kidneys were no longer functioning, and he needed to take dialysis sessions twice a week at the regional hospital. Jobless and bereft of any financial options, he and his wife had been going around, visiting friends and acquaintances, and shame-facedly begging for monetary help to pay for his dialysis sessions. “Pakapalan na lang ito ng mukha, Mong.” (“Forgive me for my lack of shame, Mong.”) A little voice inside seemed to whisper, “Love means never having to say ‘I’m sorry…’” as I pulled out my checkbook. His wife started to cry with gratitude and self-pity as Bong shook my hand profusely. Just to console them, I said without thinking, “As long as there is life, whatever the cost, no matter the shame, keep on fighting, Bong. Never give up. God is on your side.”

Sure enough, barely a month later, Bong was back, but this time without his wife. “Nahihiya na siyang sumama,” (“She’s too ashamed to come along”) he said honestly. I didn’t give him the full amount he needed, but he said it was still a big help. Later, I regretted not “going an extra mile” for him, and feared that he might just give up because of utter shame. I decided to include Bong in my prayers. A few months passed, and I started to wonder whether Bong was still alive. Didn’t Christ give His all when I needed to be saved?

Lord, why do we still hold back when we could have given more? Every act of charity is an opportunity that we must perform wholeheartedly for Your love. Help me become a better giver next time. Amen.

Comments are closed.