Wednesday, June 19, 2019

“Repaid in Grace” by Beth DeCristofaro

“Repaid in Grace” by Beth DeCristofaro

…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. (2 Corinthians 9:6-9)

And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. (Matthew 6:4)

God of all that is good, God of every mercy, empty me of worldly acclaim or miserliness so that I have room for your abundance to fill and overflow in order to do your will here on earth as it is in heaven.

“’I wish to be left alone’, said Scrooge.  ‘Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer.  I don’t make merry myself at Christmas, and I can’t afford to make idle people merry.  I help to support the (prisons and Union workhouses) – they cost enough: and those who are badly off must go there.’” … After Scrooge satisfied himself that no one was hidden within his “gloomy suite of rooms” he “sat down before the fire to take his gruel.  It was a very low fire indeed, nothing on such a bitter night.  He was obliged to sit close to it, and brood over it, before he could extract the least sensation of warmth from such a handful of fuel.”[i]

Scrooge seems to have missed the message that piety, study, and subsequent actions are founded in the immensity of God’s overflowing love.  He is as stingy with himself as with others, reaping as he sowed. He can’t connect that giving is from the one who gave to him, God-given gifts bestowed on him and on us whether we deserve it or not. What a loser. 

Our U.S. culture loves a winner!  We spend hours in front of sports events, reality shows which pick the best dancer or cut down the rival.  We aren’t accustomed to follow Jesus’ words that when we give alms, pray and fast to go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. (Matt. 6:6).  It’s not about hiding our commitment of walking with our brother, Jesus.  Rather it’s trusting that God’s generosity is all about us, showering upon us and that trophies, cash winnings, media attention – or even the admiration of our parish and Cursillo families -  is not  the Christ within each of us.

It’s hard to give up those Christmas-like treats of public acclaim.    Instead we are asked to be a “cheerful giver” of God’s gifts to us: possessions, talents, time without judgement or the desire to change someone to our benefit.  Instead we are asked to believe that in secret, God will repay each one of us according to God’s merciful judgement not our votes or “likes”.

Of course, Scrooge experienced a conversion.  He “went to church, and walked about the streets, and watched the people hurrying to and fro, and patted the children on the head, and questioned beggars, and looked down into the kitchens of houses and up to the windows; and found that everything could yield him pleasure.  He had never dreamed that any walk – that anything – could give him so much happiness.”[ii]  Dicken’s story is perhaps over dramatic but his words paint a vivid picture of the internal happiness of God’s presence, God’s “repayment.”  

Moreover, as Paul says in v8 of this reading:   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.

How might I empty myself of worldly acclaim or tight-fisted meanness so that I have room for God’s abundance to fill me and overflow?

[i] A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens, The Project Gutenberg EBook, 2007, Pp 32-33, 46)

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