Together with prayer and fasting, almsgiving (sharing with those in need) is the third "pillar" of the Christian life, and an important aspect of preparation for Holy Communion. St. John Chrysostom says that since the Eucharist is a common "meal," in which all share equally and no one receives more than anyone else, we should learn to share our food and belongings in a similar way. To partake of the Body and Blood of the Lord "unworthily," says Chrysostom, is to do so while "neglecting the hungry" and "passing heedlessly by the poor."
It is important to remember that almsgiving is more than mere "charity;" that is, something we do that is above and beyond our "duty." Almsgiving is above all a matter of justice, since upholding the dignity of our brother or sister is our duty. When we work for justice, we are seeking, as St. Basil the Great says, to "restore the balance," to bring equilibrium to an unbalanced social structure that leaves many without the means to meet their daily needs. In this regard, we are seeking not only to help others, but also to become sharers with God in the creation of a new world.