Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Wednesday word, 20 Jun 2007

11th Wednesday of the Year (20 Jun 2007) 2Co 9. 6-11; Ps 112; Mt 6. 1-6, 16-18
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Indiscriminate, Modest and Discreet: Contours of God’s Heart

As we listen to Jesus sayings in Matthew’s chapters 5 through 7, Jesus directly teaches us as he taught his first disciples. As we hear all his sayings, we help ourselves to appreciate them by remembering that God is the measure, the yardstick of all Christian life. We easily tend to make ourselves the measure or some other noble values the yardstick instead of God. Keeping God and God’s heart as the measure challenges us.

Jesus’ teaching about piety reminds us that God’s heart is lavishly indiscriminate: do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. God’s heart is modest: don’t exercise your spiritual practices so that others may see them but so that you may focus on God and God’s loving care of you. God’s heart is genuine and discreet: when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to others to be fasting.

St. Paul echoed Jesus when he reminded each of us to be a cheerful giver. St. Paul emphasized that God’s heart is without sadness or compulsion. This is not the sadness we feel out of empathy for another’s misfortune or even for our own. No, the sadness St. Paul meant was that of sullen, silent resentment. God’s heart is never grudging nor feels it has to give. God delights to grace us!

A spiritual exercise of great value to us is a pause to consider the bounty we receive from God at each moment as well as in our abiding traits and talents. This spiritual exercise allows us to enjoy deeper felt knowledge that we are being enriched in every way [by God] for all generosity, which through us produces thanksgiving to God. That is a refreshing way to think of our alms and our service in the name of Jesus: our generosity is one more way that we express gratitude to God. It is a more healthy thanksgiving the more lavishly indiscriminate, modest and discreet we allow it to grow.
Wiki-photo of a collection box for the poor in the university district of Seattle is used under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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