Cheerful Giving, 11th Wednesday (I), June 21, 2017

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Visitation Mission of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Wednesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time, Year I
Memorial of St. Aloysius Gonzaga
June 21, 2017
2 Cor 9:6-11, Ps 112, Mt 6:1-6.16-18

 

To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below: 

 

The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • In the Gospel Jesus talks about giving alms in an inconspicuous way, focused more on God the Father who sees in secret and in imitation of his generosity to us than in drawing the attention and praise of others or even, in not letting our left hand know what our right is doing, in making us vain because of the sacrifice. In the first reading, St. Paul talks, within the context of trying to spur generosity toward the Church in Jerusalem, of sowing “bountifully,” of giving in abundance, of “lavishly giving to the poor” as the Psalm describes the blessed man who fears the Lord.
  • But what I’d like to focus on St. Paul’s words to give “without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” We need to give freely and joyfully. How do we grow in this cheerful giving? First, when we grow in love of those for whom we are sacrificing, because sacrificing is so much more a cause of happiness when we give to someone we love. Second, when we don’t give out of compulsion, or duty, or constraint, but make the choice freely to give of ourselves, because we recognize in giving that we’re not enslaved to what we own. Third, when we remember what we’re receiving through giving: generosity itself brings joy, when we’re able to help lift others in some way.
  • Cheerful giving is meant to be a characteristically Christian attitude. St. Mother Teresa, in forming her sisters toward “loving trust, total surrender and cheerfulness as lived by Jesus and Mary in the Gospels,” recognized that one who gives cheerfully, gives more, because one is giving even the realization of the sacrifice being made, and one is also through cheerfulness gaining a capacity to keep giving because one isn’t counting the cost. The cheerfulness comes through sharing in Jesus’ joy through loving others as he has cheerfully given to us first. Mother Teresa told her sisters, “Cheerfulness should be one of the main points of our religious life. A cheerful giver is a great giver. A cheerful giver-religious is like sunshine in the community. Cheerfulness is a sign of a generous and mortified person who, forgetting all things, even himself, tries to please his God in all he does for souls. …A person who has this gift of cheerfulness very often reaches a great height of perfection. For God loves a cheerful giver and He takes close to His heart the religious he loves.” She said that when a gift is particularly painful, and cheerfulness especially heroic, that we should remember that the Risen Lord Jesus is with us, pleased, and helping. “Remember, she said, “that the Passion of Christ ends always in the joy of the Resurrection of Christ. So when you feel in your own heart the sufferings of Christ, remember the Resurrection has to come, the joy of Easter has to dawn. Never let anything so fill you with sorrow as to make you forget the joy of Christ Risen.”
  • St. Aloysius Gonzaga, whom the Church celebrates today, was a cheerful giver. He’s not always depicted that way because, from the age of six until his death at 23, he lived a life of purity and penitence. Penance is not normally associated with cheerfulness, but in his life it was. He sacrificed himself in various mortifications cheerfully out of love for God and love for others in reparation and supplication. He cheerfully continued to give himself to God and in service when his father was opposing his becoming a Jesuit rather than his noble heir. When he finally entered the Company of Jesus at the age of 17, he sacrificed him cheerfully for the most menial tasks, like working in the kitchen, since he, coming from a noble background, knew that that would be a great means to grow in humility and prevent others from regarding him according to his birth rather than his rebirth. When the plague hit Rome, he generously gave himself with a serene and comforting smile to caring for the sick. When he contracted a serious fever that within three months caused his death, he approached that whole painful situation, and even the subject of the sacrifice of his life in death, with cheerfulness, constantly stating, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” And when he wrote his beautiful letter to his mother found in the breviary, he asked her to share his joy. He’s a model of a cheerful giver of one’s whole life, because he was giving to God and through, with and in God to others.
  • He learned that type of cheerful self-giving from the Mass, where each day Jesus joyfully gives himself to us and summons us to give with cheerfulness our own logike latreia, as we enter into communion with the one who seeks to transform us into the continuation of his cheerful self-giving to the world.

 

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1 2 COR 9:6-11

Brothers and sisters, 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.
Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you,
so that in all things, always having all you need,
you may have an abundance for every good work.
As it is written:

He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever.

The one who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food
will supply and multiply your seed
and increase the harvest of your righteousness.

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

Responsorial Psalm PS 112:1BC-2, 3-4, 9

R. (1b) Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Blessed the man who fears the LORD,
who greatly delights in his commands.
His posterity shall be mighty upon the earth;
the upright generation shall be blessed.
R. Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Wealth and riches shall be in his house;
his generosity shall endure forever.
Light shines through the darkness for the upright;
he is gracious and merciful and just.
R. Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Lavishly he gives to the poor;
his generosity shall endure forever;
his horn shall be exalted in glory.
R. Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia JN 14:23

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Whoever loves me will keep my word,
and my Father will love him
and we will come to him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 6:1-6, 16-18

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Take care not to perform righteous deeds
in order that people may see them;
otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you,
as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets
to win the praise of others.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you give alms,
do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
so that your almsgiving may be secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites,
who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners
so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door,
and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.
They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to others to be fasting,
except to your Father who is hidden.
And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”