A Pope’s Gratitude for Selfless Giving

Spanish couple felt called to help the persecuted Christians — never expecting a 'thank you'

How often are needs acknowledged in one’s mind — but no action taken? Sometimes big problems seem so overwhelming to do anything about that there’s no point in trying.

One devout Catholic couple, however, raised and contributed money for persecuted Christians in the Middle East and received a personal “thank you” from Pope Francis in return.

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Their motivation was neither acknowledgement nor praise, yet they will always  received a thank you that they will always treasure.

Josefa Rodriguez and Amaro Pesquero are a retired married couple from Fuenlabrada, Madrid, Spain, as the Catholic News Agency reported. They made a pilgrimage to Rome in August 2016 for the Holy Year of Mercy. In addition to the pilgrimage, they decided they needed to make a contribution to the people they felt were the most in need: persecuted Christians. A member of their group presented the pope with the money and a letter.

In response, they received a handwritten note from the pontiff, saying, “I thank you from the heart for this gesture of concrete charity and ask the Lord to abundantly reward you. I ask you, please, to not forget to pray for me so that I can be faithful to the Lord in this ministry. May Jesus bless you and the Holy Virgin care for you.”

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Rodriguez and Pesquero simply put their faith into action. They saw a great need, a current tragedy in this present day, and desired to help. Maybe their donation was significant in monetary terms, maybe it wasn’t — but the eternal value is immeasurable. They did not broadcast their generosity or proclaim their sacrifice. They just gave of themselves.

In Matthew 6:1-5, Jesus teaches, “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is what is done in secret, will reward you.”

God sees every heart — after all, He created each one —and He knows why good deeds are done. He sees the motives, aspirations, and conviction of each person. God doesn’t desire an offering of money; He desires an offering of obedience.

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Two lessons can be learned by the gift of Josefa Rodriguez and Amaro Pesquero. First, if there is a wrong that you can help right, offer help. Your assistance does not need to be large, as measured by the world’s standards. It only needs to be sincere. Time, finances, resources, and prayer are all ways to contribute to the kingdom of God, no matter how seemingly small.

Second, God blesses the genuine worship of His people through their good works. The blessing may not always be realized, but He is faithful and just to deliver on His promise to reward His children, whether in this life or the next.

There is every reason to desire the blessing of God and to store up one’s treasures in heaven. Rodriguez and Pesquero are an example of obedience, quiet righteousness, and resulted reward.

Katie Nations, married for 15 years, is a working mother of three young children. She lives in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 

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