Grace to you!
Christian spiritual life, new life in Christ, could be a scary experience. It’s a unique kind of love relationship that continues to draw us in, until we willingly submit our will to the Will of Christ, our Lord and Lover, by his grace. For many, this experience, though a hub of inner peace and joy, is a sort of dark night.
Many people resist love because of fear of being raised so high and left to crash from the pinnacle of love to the darkness of abandonment. In the case of our love relationship with God, never would He abandon us. There may be dark night experiences, yet God’s love for us endures.
Reading the life of the Saints, one observes how gradually, wittingly or unwittingly, they could be rightly called “fools for Christ” (1 Cor 4:10). When the saints give themselves to service of others, or when they surrender themselves completely in the immersion of divine contemplation and what it brings, they seem lost to the social norm of things. Their ways seem different.
For instance, ponder the responsibilities Jesus sets for the believer in Matthew 5:43-48; asking us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Barely a few would consider you wise if you look someone who openly works against your success or maligns you in the eye and say to the person; "I forgive you and pray for your blessings." Or if you propose the same grace to someone who is violent against you or your loved one. This sounds foolish.
When Saint Maria Goretti suffered the despicable brutality of abuse and was murdered in the process, she interceded to the Lord in favor of her abuser; asking that he be forgiven and converted. She also wished to see the abuser in heaven. I doubt if I were God, I would agree to her request or if I were her, I would say such a prayer. It was this heroic act of virtue that makes the saints different. Set apart—Holy.
From the Lord, we hear this powerful word: “Be perfect [in your love for all as the context suggests] as your Heavenly Father is perfect” (Mtt 5:48). This love is capable of reorienting the ego, nourishing us to think and act not only for ourselves, but also for others. Such is agape.
From Saint Paul we also hear: “Now as you excel in everything—in faith, in utterance, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in your love for us—see that you excel in this gracious works also (2 Cor 8:7),” namely almsgiving, generosity. This too goes contra to our ego, demanding we live not only for ourselves, but also for the Lord and for others. Such is agape expressed in action.
You see how important it is we make offerings for the saints? Those collection boxes in our churches are not simply for the bills of the church (they should be paid), they are actually an opportunity for us to grow in spiritual fervor. Offerings in our churches and gifts for the needy aren't footnotes in the work of faith. They are integral parts of our life as Christians.
May we embrace almsgiving and Christian generosity with the same expectant joy as the practice of other virtues. Almsgiving is a fantastic opportunity of grace. “Give and there will be gifts for you” so says the Lord (Lk 6:38).
Praying that we will excel in this gracious work of almsgiving which flows from charity. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Tuesday Week 11A: 2 Cor 8:1-9; Mtt 5: 43-48]
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.