Monday, February 9, 2009

The gift of giving


St. Paul said in Acts 20:35 -"In every way I have shown you that by hard work of that sort we must help the weak, and keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus who himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"

How will we GIVE of ourselves today, this week, this month, this year?

Sit in the school of silence and ask our Lord this question. He won't wait to answer - if we can remain silent long enough to listen!

This week's post was inspired by the words of our deacon in yesterday's homily as he shared a story about giving.

Giving just to do something nice is much different than giving out of our love for Jesus. Since Christ loved us first, we can freely give from that love. This giving is one of the greatest gifts in life. Giving through the grace of God brings true joy, and true joy is deeper and longer-lasting than general happiness, which is usually fleeting amid the trials of life.

When I find myself unhappy with something or someone, it is usually because I have taken my focus off Christ (the ultimate giver) and instead focus on my own wants first (getting). This distinction can be subtle to our human eyes. We can fool ourselves into believing we're really thinking of others when we're not.

That's why it's so important to pray and stay in the Word of God -the Holy Bible - and partake in the Sacraments that Christ gave to us for strength on our journey.

In the park each Saturday, I have seen brothers and sisters that are unhappy with their momentary place in life. The joy is gone from their eyes. Some have strayed far from our Lord. They are searching and don't yet realize that only Christ will bring them true happiness regardless of their state in life.

Others, if one looks closely enough, project the joy of the Lord, realizing that He is with them in their struggles. Having others to meet them where they are helps them along.


Through your love and support -many sisters and brothers are hopeful. They are hopeful because they know people care about them and their needs as individuals.

One woman receiving care from DeGage took time to help me bring in over 10 big bags of new thermal underwear, scrubs and regular underwear. These were donated by many who chose to give of their treasure to others in need. This woman thanked and hugged me. As I was fastening my seat belt in the van, I looked up only to see her at my window with her hands together in prayer mouthing "thank you" and then looking upward, lifting her hands in praise to God. Had people not given, she may not have taken the opportunity to give praise God.

In praising God, we allow the Holy Spirit to shine through, which then lifts us up.

So, giving brought not only the gift of warmth for body, but also warmth for the soul!

"But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." Hebrews 3:13

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord...
Driving down Division Street or any other big-city street in our country, it's easy to see many brothers and sisters walking from here to there. With a quick glance, most of these men and women appear to be wandering without a purpose. After meeting and talking with some of them, we realize that they are not all wandering aimlessly.

Many are walking with a purpose - to the library to read or look at the want-ads on the computer, to the bus stop to catch a bus to fill out job applications, to an area church for breakfast and/or worship, to a friend's house to visit, to the bar for a few drinks, to anywhere other than Division Street where the dark realities of life continually slap them in the face.

For many who want to stay sane and safe, there only choice is walking. If they stay in one place on the streets too long they will freeze or get beat-up/mugged, shoved aside by shop owners, kicked out of the library for falling asleep, etc... The missions put them out by 7:00 a.m. each day, and they can not return until dinner. For those who are looking up, they want to spend as little time as possible in the missions.

Not all those walking around and into the park for lunch are homeless.

One kind older gentleman, Richard, who we've been privileged to befriend does have a permanent place to rest his head. He lives in a nursing home not far from downtown. He walks around most days to keep busy. He stops by for lunch each week not only for the homemade soup and sandwiches, but for companionship.

His mother died a few years ago at age 90. After taking care of her most of his life, he is now alone without any other family. He taught history for many years, but is now unemployed. He really wants to get another job, but isn't having any luck - like most people searching for jobs these days! From our conversations, it's evident that he is lonely.

Setting on the park bench in the sun eating soup together this past Saturday was almost like sitting with my dad. Richard actually knows some of the same people my parents know. We have some other people in common from the teacher arena. I've been thinking for some time now about visiting the elderly in nursing homes, but just haven't. There's no excuse on my part except selfishness.

Now, our patient Father has placed this nice man before me. He gave his address before I even asked. So I then asked him if our family could stop by from time to time for visits, possibly bring dinner. He really liked the idea and gave me his phone number -again before I could even ask. As we left, he smiled and said, "see you next Saturday!"

In giving, we have received an unexpected precious gift - friendship.

Is there anyone near you who is alone and in need of a friend? How about giving your time by sending a card/flowers or inviting them over for a cup of tea and conversation?

I guarantee that in the act of giving, you will find a joy beyond your expectations.
"The joy of the Lord is your strength." - Nehemiah 8:10

May the peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ reign in your heart, your mind and on your lips today and always. Amen!