The Lenten journey becomes more meaningful as we explore the divinely given helps to holiness.  In the first week, we reflected on fasting that heals our greed. In the second week, we pondered on prayer that heals our pride. The gospel today enlightens us on the third Lenten discipline – almsgiving or charity.
Say alms or charity and immediately we think of coins that drop in the hands of a beggar, or donations brought to the church or relief items sent to victims of calamities or accidents. These of course are charitable actions but even people without faith are moved to do them for humanitarian reasons. Christian charity has a challenge deeper than mere giving and helping a fellow human being.
In the gospel today (John 4), the apostles were startled at finding Jesus talking to a woman. And yet Jesus comfortably converses with this woman he just met at the well. He knows she is a sinner but offers her hope and new life. He reveals to her what he hides from others, that he is indeed the Messiah (v. 26).  Then he agrees to speak to the neighbors and friends of the woman.
What was surprising in all these is that the woman was a Samaritan and Jews and Samaritans don’t mix. The woman was an adulterer and Jesus was a religious figure. Why did this happen? 
The gospel clearly shows us the charity of Jesus. It is not mere giving of material consolation. Jesus was there for this woman because in his heart, this woman – a stranger, a sinner – was her sister in God. He dealt with her kindly not out of pity but because she too “is part of me.”
That is what charity or almsgiving really is all about. We give, we help, we share, we extend our hands because we regard the poor, the victims, the hurting, the needy as a brother and sister in Christ. there cannot be Christian living without this kind of charity because a Christian is aware that he belongs to the wider family of which God is the Father.
In our world today, it is much easier to see in another person the face of an enemy, one who has hurt me deeply.  It is easy to envisage the other as a competitor, out to take what I have. It is easy to look suspiciously at the other, for he/she is unfamiliar. Many times we are simply indifferent because the other is unrelated to us.
The charity Jesus shows us heals inequalities and broken relationships. God has shown us great love when he had mercy on us even though we are sinners, and Christ died for us, as his brothers and sisters (Rom 5:8-9).
This Lent, are there people you refuse to look at, talk to, mingle with or even think kindly of? Are there people the Lord is asking you to consider a brother and sister… again in your life.  This may not be easy.  Let us pray for help and guidance from the Lord Jesus.