The Dead Sea in Israel has a high salt content as it only receives water and has no outlet, and hence is unable to support life. Similarly, Fr Nathanial explains, receiving without giving renders us stagnant and dead. Photo: Svetlana Bar via Pixabay.
Giving without counting the cost
Everything we have in life is a gift from God. Father Xavier Nathanial, assistant parish priest of the Church of Saint Francis Xavier, invites us to exercise our responsibilities as Catholics, particularly in the area of being generous with the many gifts God has bestowed on us.
Every breath that we take is a gift from God. Through every dawn we awake from, and sunset we slumber into, we are able to witness that these are gifts from God. In Matthew 9:36 – 10:8, Jesus gives specific instructions to the twelve apostles when He sends them out on mission. Not only did He tell them to proclaim God’s Kingdom, He also gave them the power to cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers and cast out devils. He adds that because they received without charge, they should give without charge.
“Everything we have in life is a gift from God and being Christian is, in fact, a life conscious receiving and giving back to God”
God gives for a purpose
God our Creator has done everything for us, and He expects us to be mindful of the gifts and blessings that He has bestowed upon us, and to give back to Him generously and gratefully. These gifts are privileges that require our responsible responses. “Noblesse oblige”, which translates to nobility obligates, means that privilege entails responsibility. Without cost, we have received, without cost we are to give.
Jerusalem has two famous seas, the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. These seas are actually lakes, which flow from the Jordan River. The Sea of Galilee is a freshwater lake teeming with fishes and other forms of sea life, while the Dead Sea is a highly concentrated saltwater lake that cannot support any living organisms. The two lakes receive their water from the same source, yet one is fresh and gives life, while the other is dead, unable to support life. The reason for this difference is simple: the Sea of Galilee receives water and has an outlet for letting out water continually, whereas the Dead Sea only receives water and does not have an outlet, except through evaporation. Similarly, giving and receiving keeps us alive and allows us to be life-giving, but receiving without giving renders us stagnant and dead.
Passing on the blessings
When Jesus sent the apostles out on mission and taught, “You received without charge, give without charge.” (Matthew 10:8), He emphasised the need for missionary generosity – the giving of our time, services and resources in the service of God’s Kingdom. Saint Paul asks us to reflect, “What do you have that was not given to you?” (1 Corinthians 4:7). Everything we have is a gift from God, and being Christian is, in fact, a life of conscious receiving and giving back to God.
Unfortunately, we pay much more attention to receiving than giving. As children of God, we receive the gift of faith, we receive the Word of God, we receive forgiveness, we receive the Sacraments, and we receive new life in the Spirit and so much more. However, we only complete the circuit of God’s grace when we go out and share these same blessings with others. If we fail to share His gifts, we become like the Dead Sea, stagnant and dead because it only receives and does not give back. Therefore, let us ask ourselves how we can be life-giving and give back to God for all His goodness to us.