26 May 2015
It seems like the Church is always trying to squeeze something out of us. More money, more hours of volunteer time, more time in prayer, more money, more commitment to the faith, more money. Of course, that’s not just our imagination; it’s real. We Catholics place a high value on the idea of “giving,” the idea of “sacrifice.”
And that’s because we know that “it’s in giving that we receive;” “a hundred times more” than what we give. As we heard yesterday, sacrifice opens the door to freedom and life. It’s a lesson we learn from Jesus’ Passion, death, and Resurrection. It’s a lesson we learn every time we do something nice for somebody just for the joy of giving.
It’s a lesson we learn every time we come to Mass. The bread and wine are brought forward from the people. They’re offered, given, sacrificed. And then they come back to the same people—not as bread and wine—but as something infinitely greater: the Body and Blood of Christ.
God doesn’t ask to give what we don’t have; he asks us to give out of what we do have. Some people in the parish are economically poor—and so, God doesn’t ask them to give so much money. Some people in the parish have no musical ability—and so, God doesn’t ask them to join the choir or lead the people in singing.
God doesn’t ask the impossible; he asks us to consider what is possible. From whatever blessings God has given us, we give some of them back . . . here at the altar, and out there in the day-to-day world. And we don’t give them back, we don’t sacrifice them, we don’t give of our gifts and talents so we can be poor. We give and sacrifice so that, just like the bread and wine, those same gifts can come back to us a hundredfold. We give so that we can share in the riches of Christ, the riches of real life and happiness.
The Church is always trying to squeeze something out of us. But with the right attitude toward giving and sacrifice, that “squeeze” might begin to feel more like . . . joy; the joy of letting go, the joy of trusting God, the joy of giving and receiving.