5th Sunday after Pentecost 9.7.17 Generosity
There is a general tone set in today’s readings, and many similar passages, that we (as disciples of Christ) should put in more than we take out; give more than we receive.
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. (Lk 6,32-34)
This is the whole nature of God Himself, in creating us; and then further, in saving us. He is giving more than He could ever receive from us.
To be His disciple we have to adopt the same pattern: we lend without expecting to receive back, we bless those who curse us (Rm 12,14); we go the extra mile for the sake of the other person (Mt 5,41). Above all, we forgive those who offend us (Mt 6,12).
This was the way Christ lived on earth, and the constant lesson He gives us who seek to follow Him. He came to serve, not to be served (Mk 10,45).
We are tempted to say that all this is too hard; and it is not fair either. If someone comes and robs me, and bashes me up, I am supposed to bless him?
Too hard it may seem at first, and many simply dismiss these teachings as poetic ideals.
But God does not command the impossible. The difficult maybe, but not the impossible
We can find our way into this by drawing upon the much greater love that God has given us. cf parable of unforgiving debtor (Mt 18,21-35).
I can forgive because God has forgiven me a lot more. I can love because God has loved me a lot more.
We draw the extra ‘fuel’ from Christ Himself, as we receive from Him in the sacraments, and through prayer. This is our daily nutrition. This is how we become strong enough to find such seemingly unlikely qualities.
At the same time we nourish our minds also. We keep at the forefront of our minds the teaching of Our Lord. We do not dismiss it as an impossible ideal. Nor do we just drift away from it, following worldly wisdom instead.
The world keeps religion for just a few ceremonial occasions, and then goes back to pursuing its own goals, without a thought for God.
It is our job, not only to live like this, but to show it to the world; to be a light on the hilltop (Mt 5,14).
We have become accustomed to the idea that the disciples of Christ are very different from Christ Himself. The disciples of Christ are a kind of mixture of the spiritual and the worldly, good and bad at different times.
This is what it has become, but not what is supposed to be.
We have to raise the standard; keep the vision where Christ Himself put it.
And then draw upon the grace and power of God to lift us to the required level. This will maintain in us the constant willingness to give rather than to receive.
As to our enemies, those who do not love us: we hope that the love of God will act on them and transform them. So enemies become friends.
We are ready to disperse God’s blessings generously. How can we be stingy with His gifts?
Why be envious because I am generous? (Mt 20,15)
Even if others do not change, there is great benefit for us to have these attitudes, to draw from the wellsprings of Christ. His charity nourishes and sanctifies us.
The blessings from Heaven are like rain - which falls anyway, not because of our efforts, but for our benefit. Grace is like that, with the difference that we can guarantee receiving it on request - which may not happen with rain.
May His blessings fall upon us now, as we call upon Him.