Dear Friends in Jesus Christ…,
This has been my second week away from you. I am enjoying spending time with my parents and traveling around to visit my friends and relatives. I hope you are doing well. Today’s readings, especially the Gospel, teaches us about giving. There is a saying, “Grudge givers say, ’I hate to;’ duty givers say, ‘I ought to;’ thanks givers say, ‘I want to.’”
I recall this story. One night years ago, a cloud burst stranded a newly-wedded couple on a remote country road. Unable to go further, they left the car and set out on foot toward a dimly lit farmhouse. When they arrived, an elderly couple with a kerosene lamp met them at the door. Explaining their predicament, the young man asked, “Could you put us up until morning, a place on the floor or a few easy chairs would be fine?” Just then a few grains of rice slipped from the young woman’s hair and fell to the floor. The couple of the farmhouse looked at each other with a knowing glance. “Why surely,” said the elderly woman, “we just happen to have an extra bedroom. Get your things from the car while my husband and I freshen it up a bit.”
The next morning the newly-weds were up early and prepared to leave without disturbing the couple. They dressed quietly, put a ten-dollar bill on the dresser and tiptoed downstairs. There, opening the door to the living room, they found the couple asleep in chairs, having given their only bedroom to the newly-weds. It filled them with tears realizing the generosity of this elderly couple.
The story invites us to ask our motives for giving? Do we give grudgingly, dutifully or because we want to? It is not just giving money. It is about the giving of ourselves and our time to family, to Church, to work and how do we do this… with affection?… with support?… with diligence? For example, how do we give our time to God in Sunday worship and prayer? (1.) How do we give to our neighbor…? grudgingly: “Do I have to give? If I don’t give will I be criticized or penalized in some way?” (2.) Do we give out of duty…out of a sense of obligation, “I would rather not give, but I feel obliged to do so?” (3.) Or does our giving have a sense of thankfulness and gratitude, meaning do we give with a generous and full heart? Jesus is speaking to us directly and personally in today’s gospel, especially if our giving is less than it should be. Jesus tells us, “The measure you use for others is the one that God will use for you.” Jesus in the Gospel we heard brings together the “all” of love for God with love for our neighbor. The first great commandment is put into action by living the second great commandment. How I live in harmony with my neighbor comes from my understanding of what it means to totally love God.
This Tuesday, November 6th, is midterm elections. Election Day presents us with the opportunity to prove that we care about our neighbors and neighborhoods by taking time to vote on local, state and federal issues. If you have not done so yet, take the time during this Mass and these final days or final hours to pray for those who are seeking political office.
They do not have to deserve my prayers, but as neighbors they need my compassion. If I feel overwhelmed with my obligation to love my neighbor as myself, participating in the election process is one way of lowering one’s anxiety. Vote for measures that will bring the most good of all involved.
God Bless You,