Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Devotion for today: are you a cheerful giver?

Scripture for meditation: 2 Corinthians: 6-9
Let me say this much: He who sows sparingly will reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will reap bountifully. Everyone must give according to what he has inwardly decided; not sadly, not grudgingly, for God loves a cheerful giver. God can multiply his favors among you so that you may always have enough of everything and even a surplus for good works, as it is written: “He scattered abroad and gave to the poor, his justice endures forever.”

Scripture for reflection: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

Sarah (a former volunteer for Blessed Teresa of Calcutta) tells us: “I’m convinced that the external cheerfulness is the manifestation of an inward joy that they [Missionaries of Charity] feel. I know that anyone who works with them is aware of the time they spend in the chapel on their knees, and they are very happy because of it. Their happiest time is when they pray – they look forward to it, they are eager to pray and to refuel and they are equally eager to come out of that refueling and give away the energy they receive. This is not fanaticism; it is a genuine joyful desire to share what they have. Just as they don’t keep any of the material things that they have: anything that’s given to them, clothing or food or money or whatever it may be – paper bags, rubber bands, you name it -  they give it away. Everything that comes in goes out.”
(Mother Teresa: A Simple Path by Lucinda Vardey, Ballentine Books, NY, 1995)

Prayer: God Give Me Joy by Thomas Curtis Clark
God give me joy in the common things, in the dawn that lures, the eve that sings;
In the new grass sparkling after rain, in the late wind’s wild and weird refrain;
In the springtime’s spacious field of gold; in the precious light by winter doled.
God give me joy in the love of friends, in their dear home talk as summer ends;
In the songs of children, unrestrained; in the sober wisdom age has gained.
God give me joy in the tasks that press, in the memories that burn and bless;
In the thought that life has love to spend, in the faith that God’s at journey’s end.
God give me hope; for each day that springs; God gives me joy in the common things!

My thoughts: Two lines in the above passage really jumped out at me: “they are eager to pray and to refuel” and “everything that comes in goes out.” Have you noticed lately how many energy drinks are on the market today; how many ways have been touted that will help us refuel and regain our energy? That is because our society disregards the impact of a solid and faithful prayer life. The Missionaries of Charity look forward to their prayer time. They know that it is in front of the Blessed Sacrament that they will find the strength and joy to do what they do with an open and loving heart. Few of us give 100% of ourselves to any one person or cause; most of us hold back on the sharing of our time and talent. Imagine being so filled with joy that we give it all away! Imagine living a life where all we have inside of us – our love, our joy, our gifts and talents – were laid out for others to experience! We would be so filled with thanks to God for everything; we would acknowledge everything as a gift from Him, and we would wake up every morning so eager and joyful to share it all. Stinginess, selfishness, obsessive worry over our money, careful protection of our time would disappear. The lonely would be visited; the sad and depressed would be befriended, and children without homes would find shelter with us. Just imagine a world that joyful! Well, my friends, it starts today, and it starts with us. Have time on your hands? Volunteer at a shelter, or a home for children and mothers suffering from abuse. Visit an elderly person or give them a call; seek out the charities in your area and give one night a week to making life a little easier for others. Too busy? That’s fine. Then start with your own prayer life. Get it in shape. Find the joy the world is hiding from you, the joy that can only be found in Christ. Then pray for this lost and hurting world. It is a good thing to do.

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