Feeling "guilty" not being able to give alms right away

I was going to a mall, and saw a poor man begging for alms on the street. Didn’t have a change, so I thought I’d go in (a shop), get a change , get back and give him some. Couldn’t buy anything because most of the shops were still closed.

By the time, I returned to the same spot, he was gone. I felt tremendously “guilty” - guilty of letting a poor man go empty handed when I could have done him a tiny favour by giving him a few coins ( I think I had some coins) , "guilty"of acting miserly by not sparing cash (I had some cash with me but like I said I wanted to get changes. I’m myself not in a position to “donate” but I’m not in that unpropitious situation that will drive me to begging, either).

I think I’ve faced this situation several times - wanting to “give” but not being able to do so right away. That often leaves me miserable. I crack(ed) a joke with myself, " Next time, don’t forget to ask for their numbers so that you can trace them (people begging) back".

Surely, I’m not committing a sin?

Be reassured, often people asking for alms go back in their spot every day or in different hours. You will find him again very soon.
Also they usually don’t depend only on the donations of a passerby for help and survival. They usually know places where they can find a meal or a shower. It is kind if you can give something to them, especially to show that you noticed them, but don’t fall for scrupulosity over it.



As @aroosi said previously, he’ll probably be back.


I have actually cried on occasions. Lol! I’m older and wiser now, and still sometimes weep for them.

As @aroosi and @Sarcelle have said, don’t worry about it. Do what you can do, whenever you can, pray for them, and support your community charity organizations that provide for the homeless.

We are admonished to be good stewards of our own resources. That includes looking out for ourselves and our families. Sometimes good stewardship means not donating cash, but praying, donating ideas, excess clothing or food, and volunteering time.

It is never a sin if you’re unable to help at a particular time. You need not feel that you must donate cash every time you see someone asking for donations.

You also need to be aware that a few charlatans can make more begging than by doing an honest job—even to the tune of an expensive apartment and car!

God knows your heart. :innocent:


No sin at all. You had the intention to help the man. It was beyond your control that he left. God knows your heart, and probably considers your love a prayer for him. It’s likely someone else was moved by the Holy Spirit to help him. I once saw a woman begging for food, so I went in a deli and purchased a lunch. When I came out a few minutes later, she was nowhere to be seen. I thought to give the food to another beggar, but I arrived home without seeing any. So I added a prayer for the woman to my grace and ate the food for dinner. We can’t get scrupulous. Jesus said we will always have the poor with us, so there’ll be plenty more chances to give alms.


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