Call to generosity PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 06 July 2016 15:01

REFLECTION

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

“Without cost you have received. Without cost you are to give.” (Mt 10,8) For sure, with these words of Christ, we are strongly reminded to be generous, to give ourselves completely to God and to others, sparing and keeping nothing for ourselves, because God has been generous with us. He gave nothing less than himself to us. And he wants to share what we have with everybody else.

Thus, in Christ’s commissioning of his disciples that should include all of us, his believers and followers, he encourages us not to worry so much about what to have or what to bring. “Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts; no sack for the journey, or a second tunic, or sandals or walking stick. The laborer deserves  his keep.”

We need to develop a keen sense of generosity and self-giving that is also a result of detachment. Let’s never forget that whatever we have comes from God who wants us to work for the common good. Thus, we hear St. Paul saying, “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Cor 4,7)

We have been reminded of this need to cultivate generosity in the gospel. “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions,” Christ said.

(Lk 12,15)

We are told not to lay up treasures for oneself but rather to be rich toward God, that is, to be generous with God and with everybody else. Avarice, hoarding, simply pursuing our self-interest and personal welfare are actually inhuman, let alone, unchristian.

It’s also good for us to remember that there is such a thing as “universal destination of earthly goods.” That’s an official part of our Christian doctrine. “In the beginning God entrusted the earth and its resources to the common stewardship of mankind to take care of them, master them by labor, and enjoy their fruits. The goods of creation are destined for the whole human race.” (CCC 2402)

Even if there is also such a thing as right to private ownership, that right is always subordinated and is supposed to work for this more fundamental truth about the universal destination of goods.

Of course, this call to generosity should always go with prudence that should be exercised both for the giver and the receiver.

To be sure, to be truly generous does not mean to be extravagant and wasteful, just giving out dole-outs that spoil people more than encouraging them to be more responsible for themselves and others.

We have to make sure that our generosity does not create a culture of mendicancy, entitlements and dependence. This is where prudence has to enter in developing this virtue of generosity.

A prudent generosity gives not only things but his own self without compromising his own welfare such that one becomes a problem to his family or to society. It makes sure that what he gives becomes fruitful and productive, following what Christ said once:

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded. And from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Lk 12,48)

It’s a generosity that helps people to be responsible, self-reliant and productive. It knows how to live the spirit of poverty and detachment even if it exerts all effort to generate more money not only for oneself but more for the others, for the common good. It’s a generosity that knows how to make business and is very enterprising not so much for the profit as for attaining the capacity to help the others.

A person who is truly generous and prudent is not afraid to become a billionaire but is not corrupted by money. He is aware of the requirements of the common good, giving preferential attention to the poor and needy. He knows how to handle the goods of the earth that are meant for universal destination even as the right to private property is also respected.

His generosity is not based on sheer sentimentalism. It’s not sporadic and reactive, but abiding and anticipative. It’s not merely theoretical and intentional, but practical and delivered in concrete terms.

A truly generous and prudent person is always mindful and thoughtful of the others. He would try his best to know what others need, and not just wait for these needs to come to his attention. He is always thinking, planning and strategizing so that the requirements of social justice, solidarity and charity are met.