If you want to be happy in life then be generous – generous with God and generous with your neighbour…… There are phenomenal examples of generosity in today’s readings.
Firstly we have the generosity of Jesus. We are told today how he is informed about John the Baptists arrest and later his death. We remember that John was Jesus’s cousin – so this is not only the death of someone who Jesus esteems as the greatest of all prophets – this is also family. Jesus – fully human and fully divine – would have felt this like we would react to a close member of our family. Let us remind ourselves how John was killed. After being imprisoned by King Herod – he was beheaded and his head was presented on a plate to Salome…. This is a particularly cruel and grotesque death – very public – humiliating….. How would you feel if your cousin died in such a manner? How did the family of Lee Rigby feel when he was butchered to death on a London street and his crazed attackers. Jesus doesn’t lick his wounds, he doesn’t harbour bitterness in his heart for Herod – he throws himself into his public mission – calling for repentance and calling his first disciples to follow him. This is the generosity of Jesus – Giving himself fully to his mission
Secondly let us look at the generosity of his first disciples Simon and Andrew, James and John. We are told that they respond to Jesus invitation – I will make you fishers of men – immediately, they dropped their nets and followed him. There is no haggling with Jesus – there is no …. Let me think about it …. Can I get back to you. These are hearts open to God – and generous with their responses ….. in other Gospels we are told that James and John were with their boats , father and hired men, so it is clear they have a little fishing business going – if they can afford to hire others to work from them. So their generous response is against the backdrop of this comfortable life.
Why are generous people happy – because it is in generosity that we imitate God. The creation of the world and of life is understood by the Church as a free act of creative love – the generous creativity of the divine. God will not be outdone in generosity – and in some ways our being generous triggers God’s blessings. It is not like some pastors will have you believe that you will become materially rich – it is a different type of wealth – you will become rich in your spirit. Gods blessings are already there – it as though being generous makes your heart grow, and it can contain Gods more and more of Gods blessings.
ST Ignatius Loyola – wrote a beautiful prayer about generosity – many of the pupils in our Jesuit schools have to learn this off by heart – it goes like this –
Lord, teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve;
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to ask for reward,
save that of knowing that I do your will.
Lets sit quietly for a moment and think – in which areas of my life can I become more generous?