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Posts Tagged ‘generosity’


John 6:1-15: Some Left Over – Part VIIfive-loaves-of-bread-and-two-fish

Sunday, August 7, 2022

John’s recounting of the multiplication story brings us even more insight and perhaps answers to questions raised over the last several days. Is this a miracle of greed becoming generosity or does Jesus actually multiply bread and fish? Why does God bring together so many in need? Why does Jesus ask the apostles to provide food when he knows they do not have the funds to do so? How is it that the Spirit heals so generously and so completely?

A large crowd followed Jesus and his disciples because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick.

God’s response to our many needs to walk among us as one of us. Let us pray that we leave our hearts and minds open to this presence.

“Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” Jesus said this to test Philip, because he himself knew what he was going to do.

Jesus’ instruction of those closest to him is constant and loving. Let us pray that we treat others with this same respect and dignity.

When they had their fill, Jesus said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted”.

The Spirit’s power to heal cannot be overestimated. Let us pray that we have the foresight to honor the Spirit as we ought.

So they collected the fragments, and filled twelve baskets from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat. When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world”.

And so we pray as we explore God’s word.

Jacopo Tintoretto, Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes

When we encounter God’s generosity, we pray for humility so that we might give thanks for this enormous gift.

When we come upon Jesus’ warmth and presence, we pray for clarity so that we might follow wherever the path of discipleship leads us.

When we receive the Spirit’s healing, we pray for confidence so that we might join him in his loving response to pain and need.

We pray as we reflect on this well-known story of God’s presence in our lives. And we do this in Jesus’ name, in union with the Holy Spirit. Amen.

For more detail of the Tintoretto image, visit: https://www.christianiconography.info/metropolitan/2017/loavesFishesTintoretto.html

Tomorrow, bread of life. 


Images from: https://www.christianiconography.info/metropolitan/2017/loavesFishesTintoretto.html and https://www.olgparish.org/olg-news-events/2018/6/15/loaves-and-fishes

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Luke 9:10-17: Some Left Over – Part VImultiplication-of-loaves-and-fishes-c-osseman

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Once more we read about this miracle of feeding thousands. Some say that the true miracle was that, moved by Jesus’ words and hunger pangs, the crowd pulled food secreted in pockets that they ordinarily would not have shared. This version of this story rests on several points: 1) those following Jesus were a greedy lot, 2) Jesus’ amazing words that moved the crowd to uncharacteristic sharing have been left out of the six Gospel descriptions of these events, and 3) the crowd not only shared their food but donated their leftovers to some unknown recipients. We might spend a lifetime debating these arguments, or we might instead reflect on the points above in the following way as Luke suggests.

God the Creator gives us far more than we can ever hope to equal. Today we give thanks for God’s immense generosity.

Jesus our Brother offers us an intimate relationship of sustenance that we can never hope to exceed. Today we give thanks for Christ’s redeeming love.

The Holy Spirit brings us an outpouring of healing and consolation that we can never hope to surpass. Today we give thanks for the Spirit’s abiding patience and persistence.

Examining the citation using the scripture link above, we determine to show generosity, love and patience to our sisters and brothers in Christ.

Tomorrow, John’s story of multiplication of generosity, love and patience.


Image from: http://www.tolleetlege.com/meditations/not-enough-gospel-reading-for-the-eighteenth-sunday-in-ordinary-time/

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2 Corinthians 9: God’s Indescribable GiftGenerosity_Header

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Consider this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.  Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

These are St. Paul’s words in today’s reading and we come upon them as we continue to reflect on the mysteries of our relationship with God, and the paradoxical nature of sowing and reaping. Paul writes about service to the holy ones in reference to the collection he has taken up in his far-flung churches, a gathering of funds that will go to the church in Jerusalem to sustain its work and ministers. Today Paul calls us to consider the joy we reap when we serve others, reminding us that the reward is great when our generosity is great.

You are being enriched in every way for all generosity, which through us produces thanksgiving to God.

A number of years ago I shared a portion of a poem by Philip Appleman with the Noontime Circle entitled Birthday Card for my Mother. It had been sent to me as part of a birthday greeting from my own daughter at a time my resources were low. Appleman’s words amplify Paul’s when we realize that it is in the very act of giving that we ward off bitterness and anger. It is through the act of giving that we find sustenance, new energy and grace.

You have survived it all,

come through wreckage and triumph hard

at the center but spreading

gentleness around you – nowhere

by your bright hearth has the dust

of bitterness lain unswept;

today, thinking back, thinking ahead

to other birthdays, I lean upon your courage

and sign this card as always,

with love . . .

As we give to others we find that it is we ourselves who are immensely enriched, and that we can in turn pass this blessing on to others. As we give to others we find that bitterness and anger melt away, and that joy and peace arrive in their stead. Let us consider this gift of harvesting as we say with Paul: Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

Consider surprising a friend or family member who needs encouragement and send Appleman’s on to them. We need not wait for a birthday to celebrate God’s indescribable gift of generosity.


Adapted from a reflection written on December 9, 2007.

philpapplemanFind a Philip Appleman bio at: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/philip-appleman

For a full version of the poem click on the image to the left.

Philip Appleman, NEW AND SELECTED POEMS (1956-1996), University of Arkansas Press, 1996. 107-108. Print.

Generosity image from: https://weaver1888.com/2020/10/06/generosity-is-a-virtue/ 

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Ascension Sunday, May 16, 2021birds-watercolor-painting-giclee-poster-gift-idea-two-sparrows-home-decor-joanna-szmerdt

Matthew 10:29-31

Every Hair

Jesus taught us, saying: Can you not buy two sparrows for a penny? And yet not one falls to the ground without your Father knowing. Why, every hair on your head has been counted. So there is no need to be afraid; you are worth more than two sparrows”.

In this short citation of Jesus’ words, we learn all that we need to know about living life and about being watchful.

ONE: Nothing can be concealed from God. The Creator knows all that we think and do. The Creator understands our most secret motivations. Why do we try to hide anything we do or anything we think? Secrecy is futile in the kingdom.

Christ walks always with us, calling us forth in the name of the Creator. The Spirit remains in us, filling us with life eternal.

TWO: Nothing we do goes unnoted by God. The Creator marks both our pain and sorrow, our happiness and joy. Why do we persist in relying on our own small forces when we have the omnipotence and omniscience of the Creator buoying us up?  Reliance on self is meaningless in the kingdom.

Christ walks before and behind us, guiding and protecting in the name of the Creator. The Spirit hovers, abiding and consoling with love everlasting.

If God notes even the falling of a sparrow’s feather, how much can our anxiety and willfulness accomplish? How far will our stubbornness carry us in comparison with the power and strength of the Spirit?

If God numbers every hair on our heads, how much do we think we can hide what we do not like about ourselves?

How much will our separateness gain for us in comparison with the unity we have in God’s love? Secrecy and too much reliance on self will always be trumped by humility, generosity and love in the kingdom. Let us live as if we believe that God has numbered our every hair.


Image from: https://fineartamerica.com/featured/birds-watercolor-painting-giclee-poster-gift-idea-two-sparrows-home-decor-joanna-szmerdt.html?product=greeting-card

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Thursday, September 3, 2020

Planets_wallpapers_117[1]

Proverbs 8

Wisdom and Creation

We have ample opportunity to listen to wise words; yet we seem to go our own way – thinking that we know better. Wisdom has been with us since creation; yet we ignore her when we need her most.

Wisdom has much to offer: Straight words, prudence, knowledge and discretion, instruction that is more valuable than gold, silver, or jewels. Wisdom loves those who seek her. Wisdom is strength, righteousness and justice. Wisdom calls out to those who have ears to hear . . .

And now my children, listen to me: happy are those who keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. Happy is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord; but those who miss me injure themselves; and all who hate me love death. 

In today’s Gospel (John 6:30-35) the people ask Jesus to give them a sign so that they may believe. I am astounded . . . and yet, do I not do they same? The people in today’s reading walk with Jesus, they shake the same dust from their clothes that also powders Jesus’ feet and face, they experience miracles at Jesus’ hands . . . and yet they ask for a sign that they might believe.

Wisdom offers her ample generosity . . . yet we ask for more. Or worse still, we decide that we know better.

Wisdom has been with God since the creation. She has dwelt with God from the beginning and she will be with God through the infinity of God’s time and through the enormity of God’s space. Why do we ask for a sign . . . when the sign lives within us? Why do we ask for wisdom . . . when wisdom has dwelt with us from our inception?


Adapted from a reflection written on May 10, 2011.

Image from: http://wakpaper.com/id164616/earth-from-space-wallpaper-1600×1200-pixel.html 

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Sirach 33:16-19: Gleaning

Monday, September 17, 2018

Written on March 3 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Francois Millet: The Gleaners

We keep our sorrows to ourselves, thinking that no one wants to hear what has gone wrong for us.  This is a mistake.  We are called to share sorrow and to accompany one another in this journey of discerning how to best word in God’s vineyard.  It does not matter how or when we come to this realization.  It only matters that we eventually arrive there.

Now I was last to keep vigil; I was like a gleaner following the grape-pickers; by the blessing of the Lord I arrived first, and like grape-pickers I filled my wine press.

By dwelling on our sorrows or by thinking that our lives are more pain-filled than anyone else’s we rob ourselves – and our companions in life’s journey – of the opportunity to experience Christ’s healing presence.  It does not matter if we feel we have little to offer, it only matters that we offer who we are to others in need.

Consider that I have not labored for myself alone, but for all who seek instruction. Hear me, you who are great among the people, and you leaders of the congregation, pay heed!

Patience, fidelity, generosity, trust in God . . . when I think of those who have taught me to climb out of sorrow and into joy, these are the qualities that make these teachers greater than any titled leader with power.  If we turn to the beginning of Sirach (2:1-6), we find more instruction.

My child, when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for testing.  Set your heart right and be steadfast, and do not be impetuous in time of calamity.  Cling to him and do not depart, so that your last days may be prosperous.  Accept what befalls you, and in times of humiliations be patient.  For gold is tested in fire, and those found acceptable in the furnace of humiliation.  Trust in him, and he will help you; make your ways straight and hope in him. 

We have frequently reflected in our Noontimes that the silversmith’s fire is essential to smelt out the detritus that makes us less bright and pure.  The prophet Malachi (3:1-3) reminds us that the refiner must remain constantly by the fire in order that it burn just hot enough to do its work without destroying the ore.  The life of those who choose to respond to God’s call is laden with many burdens . . . but these burdens convert to sweet justice when we lay all our complaints and pains before God.   We who come to God’s fields to glean what is left after the harvester passes by, engage in holy work for we lift up lost souls to God.  When we enter fully into this work to place the world’s sorrows in God’s capable hands, we – like the sadness we bear to God – are transformed by the smelter’s fire into bright, lovely and holy offerings . . .  and we become the delight we imagine.  So as we glean, let us imagine God’s joy well.


A re-post from August 17, 2011.

Image from: http://www.smithinet.com/Louvre/Louvre_art.html#gleaners 

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Nehemiah 5: Self-Interest

Monday, October 16, 2017

How does Nehemiah confront oppression in the process of rebuilding Jerusalem? When we examine this chapter of his story, we find that Nehemiah operates with transparency, honesty, and generosity.

When Nehemiah receives God’s call, he answers it in a very big way; he does not do things in half measures.  We see that he regards his work in re-building as his vocation and he does not take monetary re-payment for the work of the rebuilding.  Nor does he take credit for this amazing feat.  In contrast to his predecessors, he takes no reimbursement for his work in the rebuilding Jerusalem’s city walls and Temple.  He makes both the physical and financial outlay knowing that God will sustain him.  In this way, Nehemiah shows us how to understand our true relationship with our creator.

Nehemiah is an excellent administrator who prays constantly, and who is constantly guided by God.  He is neither self-serving nor glory seeking.  He understands that God does all, and is all. He speaks with God as his good friend and says: Keep in mind, O my God, in my favor all that I did for this people. 

Together with the priest, Ezra, Nehemiah creates a physical structure that enables the faithful to return to Yahweh.  He invites the Jewish people, magistrates and peoples from all nations to his table – something unusual for an observing Jew of his era – yet he listens for God’s voice and does whatever is asked of him to realize the work laid out by his God.  He rises over a foreign king, distant and local enemies, long-entrenched customs, gossip, and even the in-fighting raging around him in order to achieve this incredible goal of taking the rubble that surrounds him in order to participate in the making of God’s kingdom for both God and God’s people.

We, today, can be new Nehemiahs.  We can create around us structures that are collegial, safe, and predictable.  We can form relationships that are open, honest, and supportive.  We can refrain from nay-saying, gossip and destructive thinking.  We can seek solutions, listen more than we talk, think of self last, and remember that God does all and is all.

Adapted from a reflection written on December 23, 2007.

Tomorrow, praying with Nehemiah.

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Proverbs 28: Virtues

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

As we begin to close our journey through Proverbs, we reprise this Favorite from October 2009. We have explored our relationships with fools and friends, we have walked with the wise and accompanied fools who are whacked on the head. Watching Lady Wisdom build her house, we have learned that God’s heart asks for union with each of us. Exploring wise sayings of Solomon and others, we have understood that God allows us to lose and find our way. Knowing that God misses nothing and that each morning we are offered armloads of life, we continue to ask for the cure of God’s love and listen for Spirit that speaks to us within. 

Surety, Prudence, Integrity, Wisdom, Generosity, Truth, Justice

The wicked man flees although no one pursues him; but the just man, like a lion, feels sure of himself.

When we create monsters out of nothing we give in to our human fears.

If a land is rebellious, its princes will be many; but with a prudent man it knows security. 

Our rashness can divide us more than it unites us.

Better a poor man who walks in integrity than he who is crooked in his ways and rich.

Power and treasure appear to be safe havens; yet they crumble to corruption and cannot withstand the simplicity of truth and honesty.

He who rebukes a man gets more thanks in the end than one with a flattering tongue.

The truth always comes out in the end . . . and is precious.

Happy the man who is always on his guard; but he who hardens his heart will fall into evil.

Prudence is necessary; hardness is our downfall.

The greedy man stirs up disputes, but he who trusts in the Lord will prosper.

Generosity is a sign of a trusting heart.

He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is safe.

Patience and stillness bring their just rewards.

When the wicked gain pre-eminence, other men hide; but at their fall the just flourish. 

In the end, God alone is enough . . .

Words to live by; virtues to cherish; axioms to settle the mind; maxims to sooth the troubled heart.

When we compare translations of these verses, we allow God’s wisdom to enter our hearts. 

 

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Proverbs 22-24: The Cure

Friday, August 18, 2017

The cure for what ails us comes through the discipline to follow the rules laid out for us. The writers remind us of the basic tenets of good living. Later in the Gospel story, Jesus’ words and actions remind us that God’s wisdom is so often the reverse of our own.

It’s wrong, very wrong,
    to go along with injustice.

Whoever whitewashes the wicked
    gets a black mark in the history books,
But whoever exposes the wicked
    will be thanked and rewarded.

The practical precepts of Proverbs follow.

  1. Don’t walk on the poor just because they’re poor, and don’t use your position to crush the weak . . .
  2. Don’t hang out with angry people; don’t keep company with hotheads . . .
  3. Don’t gamble on the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, or hock your house against a lucky chance . . .
  4. Don’t stealthily move back the boundary lines staked out long ago by your ancestors . . .
  5. Observe people who are good at their work—skilled workers are always in demand and admired . . .
  6. When you go out to dinner with an influential person,mind your manners . . .
  7. Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich; restrain yourself!
  8. Don’t accept a meal from a tightwad; don’t expect anything special . . .
  9. Don’t bother talking sense to fools; they’ll only poke fun at your words . . .
  10. Don’t cheat orphans out of their property, for they have a powerful Advocate
    who will go to bat for them . . .
  11. Give yourselves to disciplined instruction; open your ears to tested knowledge . . .
  12. Don’t be afraid to correct your young ones . . .
  13. Dear child, if you become wise, I’ll be one happy parent . . .
  14. Don’t for a minute envy careless rebels . . .
  15. Oh listen, dear child—become wise; point your life in the right direction. Don’t drink too much wine and get drunk; don’t eat too much food and get fat . . .
  16. Listen with respect to the father who raised you, and when your mother grows old, don’t neglect her . . .
  17. A loose woman can get you in deep trouble fast . . .
  18. Don’t judge wine by its label, or its bouquet, or its full-bodied flavor . . .
  19. Don’t envy bad people . . .
  20. It takes wisdom to build a house, and understanding to set it on a firm foundation . . .
  21. It’s better to be wise than strong . . .
  22. Wise conversation is way over the head of fools . . .
  23. Fools incubate sin; cynics desecrate beauty . . .
  24. If you fall to pieces in a crisis, there wasn’t much to you in the first place . . .
  25. Rescue the perishing; don’t hesitate to step in and help . . .
  26. Knowledge and wisdom for your soul—get that and your future’s secured,
    your hope is on solid rock . . .
  27. Don’t interfere with good people’s lives; don’t try to get the best of them . . .
  28. Don’t laugh when your enemy falls; don’t crow over his collapse . . .
  29. Don’t bother your head with braggarts or wish you could succeed like the wicked . . .
  30. Fear God, dear child—respect your leaders . . .

Heavy doses of humility and generosity bring us the cure that heals all that divides us from God and on another. When we compare varying translations of these verses, we find the ingredients of the remedy that restores us.

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