2 Corinthians 9:6-11
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
"Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully." II Corinthians 9:6
When I was growing up, I became a boy scout. It was fun going to the meetings with boys my age, going camping and singing songs around campfires and being involved in projects that the Church wanted us to do as Boy Scouts. We all received a Boy Scout manual with directions as to how to earn merit badges. Every month, my Boy Scout companions would submit their projects for merit badges and after a year or so, some had a slash full of them. I would study the manual and look to see which merit badges did not take too much effort to do. Needless to say, I did not earn too many merit badges!
Many of us think of ourselves as generous people. Generosity is a quality that calls us to do more or give more than we normally would do or give. Our tendency is to hoard the bounty we have collected, whether they are material goods or those more elusive gifts we have developed, like our talents and time. The more we accumulate these gifts, the more we tend to guard them with great care and not to let them go easily. It takes a great deal of effort to share our bounty with others.
The readings for today's Mass focus our attention on generosity and purity of intention. St. Paul is urging his community to be cheerful givers because God loves cheerful givers. He recognizes that it is hard to be generous in a world that tries to take advantage of that generosity at every turn. So, if we sow our bounty reluctantly and cautiously, then our harvest will be small and poor. Then everyone will lose out. We will become even more reluctant to share generously with others. We will all be impoverished.
But when we give to God or we give to others, we need to do so from the heart. We need to recognize that our blessings and our gifts are not earned by our own merits. People who accumulate things often believe that they have done so because they are more intelligent and more cunning than the rest of us. They do not realize how the Provident God has showered them with blessings and good things. Sometimes, we accumulate things not because we have been good, but because we have cheated and lied and been dishonest with our neighbor. And because we have not been struck dead instantly, we think we have gotten away with such injustice.
We forget the refrain that we find in today's Gospel: "And your Father who sees in secret will repay you." The more ill gained is our bounty, the more we hoard it to ourselves.
So, as we reflect upon our lives, upon how we sow our bounty, our time and our talent, let us remember the message we find in today first 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." Then the words of Jesus will come to pass: "And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you."
What more could we ever want!
Fr. Clemente Barrón, C.P. is stationed in San Antonio, Texas.