March 8, 2009
“Dios no se deja ganar en generosidad” (God is never outdone in generosity). It seems that this truth hardly rings a bell anymore nowadays. We are so preoccupied with having and accumulating that we tend to forget what St. Paul says: “There is more joy in giving than in receiving.”
The story of Abraham in the First Reading this Sunday demonstrates this truth. With great trust in God, he did not hesitate to offer his son as God commanded him, believing that God could even raise his son back to life. His generosity has won for him God’s generosity that is beyond measure. God rewarded Abraham, not only the life of Isaac, but an everlasting promise fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
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St. Paul, in the Second Reading, emphasizes that God is never outdone in generosity. “He who did not refuse to give His only-begotten Son for our sake, how could He not give us whatever we ask of Him through Christ?”
Oftentimes, out of sheer shortsightedness, we fail to recognize the manifestations of God’s generosity in our lives. Our negative experiences occupy our attention most of the time that we begin to overlook that we receive more good things than undesirable ones. If we just look intently at our lives with the eyes of faith, we will discover that we have more blessings than misfortunes.
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“Bonum sui diffusivum est” (Good is in itself diffusive). It is a human tendency that whenever we receive a gesture of generosity – a good act – out of gratitude, we try to reciprocate such kindness. Kindness begets kindness, so to speak.
Here’s then, the secret of true piety: giving back to God the goodness that He has shown us. It means being generous to God, like Abraham, forgetting one’s self and believing that amidst confusion and apparent contradiction in His plan in our lives, God knows how to put order. After all, He is All-powerful, All-knowing and All-good.
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“How can I repay the Lord for all the good things He has done to me?” prays the Psalm 115. Gratitude towards God means being generous in following His will. Generosity in following God’s will could mean denying one’s self of one’s caprices, self-interests and even the desire for comfort.
Lent is an appropriate time to learn how to be more generous to God. Lenten practices like fasting, almsgiving and prayer should be viewed from the positive perspective of being generous to God, not from a negative perspective of making one’s self suffer. These are practices that reduce our self-love and increase our love for God. Being generous to God means loving God more than we love ourselves.
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Being generous to God also means being generous to our neighbors. Let us make it our aim this Lenten season to be a little bit generous in avoiding negative criticisms towards people we find unpleasant, in giving excuse to those who may have offended us unintentionally, in pardoning those who have done us wrong, in keeping a sweet smile although we don’t like it – all for the love of God.
Our generosity towards our fellowmen should be an expression of our generosity towards God. Our “experience in Mt. Tabor” with God should bring us into the sharing of such experience with our fellowmen. As Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said: “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”