Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lent: An opportunity to be generous

By Deacon Michael Jelley,
Vice Chancellor of Ecclesial Services

As a teenager in boarding school in the 1950’s I did not attend any particular church.  However I did enjoy singing in the school chapel choir on Sundays.  It was from some of the other boys in the choir that I learned that Lent was a time of regret and self-imposed punishment for sins.  We were to give up something so we could join our suffering to Christ’s suffering.  Some gave up candy, others tried to give up using bad language or teasing younger boys.  I’m not sure if I was ever able to make it through all 40 days of Lent no matter what I chose to deny myself.

Today my viewpoint has changed and I have come to see Lent as a time to pray for those in need, to reflect on the ways I may serve them, and to thank God for the opportunities I have to share from the many gifts I have received...my time, my talent and my treasure and especially the awesome news that God gives us life and, through Jesus, the gift of eternal life.   What does scripture have to say about giving?

No one shall appear before the LORD empty-handed, but each of you with as much as he can give, in proportion to the blessings which the LORD, your God, has bestowed on you. Deut 16:16b,17

My (child), give me your heart, and let your eyes keep to my ways. Prov. 23:26

‘Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, "You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to (the) poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”’ Mark 10:21

‘Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.’ Luke 6:38

‘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.' Acts 20:35

‘What then shall we say to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him.’  Rom 8:31-32

I’m going to give up giving up for Lent!  Instead I am going to pray for a more understanding and generous heart, and I will ask God to help me put my prayers into action. In the words of St. Thomas More: “O Lord, give us a mind that is humble, quiet, peaceable, patient and charitable, and a taste of your Holy Spirit in all our thoughts, words and deeds.  Give us good Lord, the grace to work for the things we pray for.”  We cannot out give God in generosity…this Lent are you wiling to try?

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