Tuesday, June 16, 2009


First Reading: 2 Cor 8:1-9
Psalm: Ps 146:2, 5-9a -- Praise the Lord, my soul!
Gospel: Mt 5:43-48

I say this not by way of command, but to test the genuineness of your love by your concern for others. - 2 Corinthians 8:8


In today's reading, we hear Paul sharing the deeds of those in Macedonia (modern-day Greece). Specifically, he is telling the Corinthians of the donations made to the community in the holy lands. He speaks of how they, even though ill-equipped to give at the time, insisted on sharing what they had with those in Jerusalem.

We are often tempted to push donations onto others, especially when finances seem difficult. Recently, we've seen a great upheaval in the economic world and, unfortunately, the first thing to go is usually charitable donations. We feel that we don't need to give, or give as much, because we are now in hard times. This causes a one-two punch on the charities themselves, as more people request help, but fewer offer help to keep the charities going.

We must learn a lesson from the Macedonians in this instance, and not only from them, but from Paul's use of their example. C. S. Lewis put the crux of the issue nicely, (read the whole section here):
I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. - C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
When Paul is recalling this event to the Corinthians, he is using it as an encouragement, almost daring them to do better. "Now as you excel in every respect, ... may you excel in this gracious act also," (2 Cor 8:7). He also stresses that this is not an order, but a test of their own generosity. In our communities today, we should also be encouraging other in our giving. It is a form of competition where there are far more winners than losers. This can be a tall order for us, as some want to receive awards for their donations, while others want to keep it a secret. Granted, it is a difficult balance between humility and encouragement, but one that we must become more comfortable with. We must cease to see ourselves as the afflicted and instead see ourselves as the greatly blessed.
For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood. - Matthew 12:44
And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.' - Matthew 25:40

Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of this day. We thank you for all of the great gifts that you have showered down upon us. Help us to share these gifts with others; gifts of time, talent and treasure. Lead us in a spirit of generosity, that we might spread the greatness of your bounty to all of our brothers and sisters. Give us the spirit of wisdom to balance generosity and humility to recognize that all blessings flow from you and not from ourselves. We ask all of this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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