We post moderns have many curiosities about the way we think and do things. For instance, some of us believe that a place for everything and everything in its place is a great way to live. It makes things neat and tidy, right? Maybe, but remember one of Pope Frances’ frequent quotes: “Life is messy!” Catchy, right, but like so many things he says or does it has layers and layers of meaning. Layers that more or less force you into a thinking mode that would be easier to simply ignore.
Take generosity, for instance. What are the parameters of generosity? What is exactly that defines a “generous spirit”? The comfortable definition would include a thought about material goods, that’s easy enough. Don’t be cheap with your time, talent and treasure when it comes to your Church. Give the first fruits, aim for a tithe. Easy, right? Yes and no. It’s fairly easy to look at our “stuff” and our “dollars” and manage that. It doesn’t require much thinking and maybe just a tiny amount of pain.
Like everything else in the spiritual life, it’s not that simple. Generosity is a mark of our spiritual growth, a milepost of sorts. Generosity is not just a statement of what we have magnanimously decided to part with. Rather it is a true measure of how far we have come and have far we’ve have to go. If you recall the Good Samaritan, one of the things that was amazing about him was not the fact that he stopped, but the fact that he didn’t hesitate to reach into his resources and he never even asked “how much”. That simply was not part of his attitude. The recovery of the person he was helping was far more important than anything he would spend.
If we truly commit to generosity it must become part of our thinking and then reflected in all the ways we live. “So I must be generous to do and suffer everything I believe God wants me to do or suffer. The more generous I am about this, the better I will see and accept God’s guidance and care in my life” (Fr. Anselm Moynihan, O.P. founding editor of Doctrine and Life. As quoted in Magnificat, July 2016, p.95.) . True generosity is an all or nothing commitment. As Fr. Moynihan points out its practice sharpens our discernment and raises our abilities to resist fear. If we are generous in our practices and expectations of God’s actions in our lives, there really is nothing to be afraid of. So have the courage to be generous in more ways than simply writing a check and watch your spiritual life take a turn that you never expected. Generosity does have its consequences.
©2016, Kathryn M. Cunningham, All Rights Reserved.