The Office of Stewardship
True Fellowship: Generous and Sacrificial
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
This is the end of this Sunday’s Gospel and whenever I hear it, it always touches a deep place in my heart. There was a time in my life where this reading would call forth a much different image than it does today.
Once, I believe I would imagine a little finger shaking along with this statement, kind of like, “Watch out! What you dish out will be dished back to you.” It was an admonition, a warning. Received in the negative sense.
Today, though, I have a completely different reaction. Rather than seeing it in the negative, I see it as an affirmation of generosity, a beautiful image of how we have the choice to enlarge our capacity to receive goodness from God and from others.
The literal image that comes to my mind when I hear this gospel will probably make you smile: it is paper products. A room full of paper towels, toilet paper, paper plates, cups and napkins. I have that image because of the great blessing of good friends who are generous and kind and who have sacrificed time and shared themselves with us over the course of twenty-five years. This friendship is true fellowship. And it is the kind of fellowship which our Stewardship Initiative encourages under the pillar of Generous Hospitality.
Our friendship was forged when we both decided to help with a church ministry which serves engaged couples. It was strengthened when we made time over the years for campouts, meetings, dinners, picnics and parties with all those who helped in the ministry. And the fruits it bore over the years came home to me two summers ago.
My friends were in the midst of great suffering. Their young adult son was dying of liver cancer. He had come home to be cared for by his family. They welcomed us into this difficult time just as generously as they had welcomed us to all the joyous occasions of their family life. So we were present to watch the many, many people who came by to support them, to visit with them, to drop off food and to drop off paper products. I was overwhelmed at how many people came and brought something.
And what came to my heart so clearly standing among so much abundance was, “the measure with which you measure will be measured to you.” This family’s generosity and kindness poured out to so many over many years was now being measured back to them. In both the giving and the receiving, their capacity to receive was made larger.
This is the beauty in living a Catholic Way of Life. The good measure is pressed down, shaken together and running over. And sometimes it comes to us in very concrete ways, like a year’s supply of paper towels. Sometimes the fruits are less tangible but no less real, like the confirmation and deepening of my knowledge of the truth that no matter how difficult or sad a situation is, God is ALWAYS good and His mercy and his love is always present, and being poured into laps ready to receive. A commitment to fostering genuine fellowship helps us enter that stream.
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