“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.” And good thing too! We know from the readings today (this Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time) that God is generous to a degree that we cannot understand. God is generous to a point that to us limited humans, His generosity actually seems unfair! (Especially to those of us, here in this area of the world, where collective bargaining is a way of life!)
Maybe, in the end, it has to do with faith. People who choose to define blessedness by what they give and not what they receive do so because they believe that in one way or another, there is enough for everyone to enjoy. They trust! Where others fear shortage or being short-changed, these people see God's grace and plenty. When others give in to the impulse to hoard (like toilet paper in the early days of pandemic lockdown), the trusting people are ruled by the generosity of the Holy Spirit. Where others fear about their share and worry about comparing, trusting ones are content with what they have received and work at being happy to make do. Where others clutch their possessions more tightly out of fear, trusting persons’ hands are opened by the sharing nature of the One who opened his hands to the nails on the cross.
Make no mistake. This kind of generosity, this sharing can be risky. What if, after all, the world is right? What if you share generously and then, whenever and wherever the accounting is done it turns out that you don't have enough? What if you don't get your “fair share?” What if no one passes a portion of “your” bread and fish back to you? What if no one else acknowledges your contribution? That's all possible. And yet Jesus promises us that a lifestyle of giving, not receiving, is the way to live in true joy and under God. It strikes me that Jesus never lived a life of plenty and yet He always spoke of God's blessing as if he knew it first-hand. Maybe giving and sharing will open up whole new realms of joy and peace and abundance for you that receiving never even hints at...
So, how can we foster a more generous way of life? Like any discipline, it takes practice—that is, a willingness to start where we are now, with the hope that through time, grace, and experience, generosity will become an ingrained way of life for us all. Here are a few practical suggestions that you might consider trying in practicing generosity:
- When shopping and purchasing your preferred products for your families’ consumption, buy an extra and place it in the food pantry collection at church.
- Start a family “missions” envelope: put in 10% of unexpected income (bonuses, gifts, refunds)—and get your kids involved, too. Then every 6 months or so make an anonymous gift as a family to a mission.
- Make a blessings list as a family: thanking God for what you have, even during this time of trial, and for the tangible reminders of people and experiences of generosity in your own life.
- Practice simplicity—which can make generosity possible. For any new item received or purchased (a book, clothes, etc.), give another you own away. This is a blessing for others; a step toward not accumulating more than is actually needed.
- Practice repurposing: fix the broken, re-use and repurpose things instead of throwing it away—or fix it and donate it. Teach your children to do this, too—this is good stewardship for the blessing of creation.
- Invite someone to lunch, coffee or a snack—it needn’t be expensive—just thoughtful. Spend some time listening and sharing—a genuine and sincere way to be generous. Small things make big rewards.
- Peruse St. Aidan’s mission projects and many ministries—all hands are needed, all gifts shared add up!
These are just a few ideas (thanks to Anthony De Mello!). I know that with prayer and consideration you may have other ideas too. (Share them!) God is so generous in all things, we can only try and be generous too. St. Paul reminds us today to conduct ourselves in a way to be “worthy of the Gospel of Christ.” Be generous, openhanded, charitable, compassionate—kind and merciful. Stop reading this and go find a thing and a way and a place to give. Time. Talent. Energy. Possessions. Money, of course. Food. Lose the fear and worry about stuff, and generously give away your love.
Keep singing in your hearts!
Just a Note: Something about how there is nothing (no thing) better than God, and His generosity…
Graves Into Gardens ft. Brandon Lake | Acoustic ... - YouTube