Giving out of Love

Ervin TanReflections

Our definition of generosity has to go beyond human terms and be rooted in God himself, explains Msgr Vaz. Photo: Jan Canty on Unsplash

Giving out of Love

In this season of Lent, Catholics are called to pray, fast and give alms so that we can grow spiritually and prepare ourselves to celebrate Easter. The practice of almsgiving reminds us that there are needs other than our own. Rev Msgr Ambrose Vaz reflects on God’s great generosity to us and His invitation to all of us to reflect Him in our lives.

What is generosity? When we try to define it as a certain attitude, quality or characteristic, many of us tend to do it in human terms. We are created in the image and likeness of God. He is the starting point of our very existence. If we truly believe this, it means that our definition of generosity has to be rooted in God himself. So we have to ask ourselves then, what is God’s understanding and expression of generosity?

Because He is generous

For us Catholics, generosity cannot just be a feature of life. It has to be a quality we want to live because we want to be like our Creator and experience that fullness of life that comes along with it. As we reflect on Scripture and the whole dynamic of God’s relationship with us, we know that God is a generous God: He gives everything of Himself to us.

We see this particularly in the life of Jesus. He identified with us in our struggles so much that He became one of us, even emptying Himself to the point of laying His life down for us. Therefore, our understanding of generosity would have to include doing or being something for the essential good of another person, over and above the satisfaction it gives us.

Being other-centred

A truly generous person is one who is focused on helping someone else, thinking not of their own personal satisfaction but the good of the other. This requires a certain amount of self-giving, even to the point of being self-sacrificial. Being sacrificial is to be truly other-centred. In doing so, it brings about a joy in knowing that we have been able to live a way of life that is the way of our Creator.

In the Book of Revelation (14:1-5), we are told that all those who have been faithful to Jesus in terms of their way of life, their values and generosity of self-giving are rejoicing, for through their lives they have been able to connect with the Lord more intimately.

We are also told that they are singing a new hymn that they alone can learn. Only those who have lived this way of generosity, of giving of themselves, are able to participate in the celebration and sing with Him.

This hymn represents a way of life that Jesus came to show us, and those who do not participate in this way of life will not be able to learn this hymn, no matter how hard they may try.

Giving our best

We need role models who lay down their lives. Of course, Jesus Himself is our key role model but we also need people in our life that we know of who will inspire us to be the same.

In the story of the widow’s mite (Luke 21:1-4), Jesus gives us the poverty-stricken widow as a role model. We are told that she gave the best that she could give. In comparison with what others were giving, it seemed like nothing, but to God it meant everything. This story teaches us God’s measure of generosity. The way He evaluates generosity is not based so much on the quantity we give but on the percentage we are capable of giving. The widow was only capable of giving two mere copper coins, and she gave them all.

Through her example, we see a call for each one of us to not compare with what others give but to look at our own availability and capability in giving, and to give in the same measure of blessings God has given us.

Joyful in generosity

Jesus tells us that if we do what He tells us, if we love in the same way that He loves us and if we love sacrificially and generously the way He does, His joy will be in us, and our joy will be complete.

We thank God for the many who have responded to his invitation, the many benefactors to the Catholic Foundation who have been giving generously, thinking of the good that their gifts will bring to others.

Let us ask God to continue to keep within our hearts the desire to be generous with our lives, and we pray that many others will respond to God’s invitation to experience true joy by being truly generous.

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