How can we be more generous with our treasure? For parents, it might be difficult to fully understand why we need to give of our worldly possessions when we are always giving our time and energy.
But there is a reason why Christ calls us to be generous with our worldly endowments, and so, we must take seriously His call to give of our money and possessions.
Perhaps you sometimes struggle to see how you have any extra to give when it comes to money. If we are truthful, maybe we all should admit to this battle of the will. Who of us couldn’t easily find reasons to believe that we need each and every penny we earn?
When we feel this way, perhaps one of first steps in becoming more generous is to strive to more deeply understand the value behind the gift. If I believe in what I am giving to, then I should feel less grudging in my giving.
Do I feel that my contribution, even if it be small, is of real importance? Though I may not see the direct result of my giving, do I have faith that it is vital to the life and existence of my parish? It may mean sitting down to reflect about the many ways in which my parish needs generous givers, in order for me to gain greater peace in this area.
Do I see and value all that my parish gives to me? Do I realize that I cannot earn the gift of the sacraments and the life of the parish, but that I can show my gratitude to God by giving back my financial support of the priest and his ministries?
When Jesus says in Scripture that the widow gave more than the Pharisees, He is providing us with a most important insight about financial giving. For if our gift does not cause us some hardship, or does not hurt us in any way, then it is not as meritorious. While is it always a good idea to be generous, when we give only out of our excess, we do not “feel” that gift in the same degree.
That is why, during Lent, we often hear about the idea of giving away the money to a charity which we might have spent on coffee or ice cream, for example. In this way, we truly feel the loss of something, and the money left over from our self-denial is the fruit of our sacrifice. When we give this money, we know we are giving a gift of ourselves, and we experience a greater satisfaction as a result.
Perhaps a good rule of thumb for us is: do I often go without in some area in order that others may benefit from my gift? It might not always be a financial gift (usually as mothers it is more along the lines of denying ourselves some reasonable good for our spouse or children), but does it cause us an interior struggle to offer it?
When we are battling against ourselves in making a gift, we are probably on the right track. I can recall struggling to share my belongings with my teenage siblings, and what a silent battle it was within to practice generosity with my “stuff”! For we have a surprisingly strong inclination to view the things we have earned as solely and rightfully ours.
We have lost some of the Church emphasis on community and shared livelihood. “Are we not our brother’s keeper?” we must ask again.
Honestly examining the generosity others have shown to us can help ignite a desire to give back in some form. We all have parents, friends, grandparents, or someone in our lives to whom we owe a great deal. Often, we owe them our very livelihood and our lives. When we recognize this truth, we are humbled, and through humility we are drawn to share the gift we have been given.
When we see the value of our education, our family life, and our faith, we rightfully desire to bequeath these gifts to those we love. But the reality of carrying on something good is that it requires the effort and financial support of committed individuals. We can choose to support individuals who are struggling to succeed, or we may support institutions who are committed to worthwhile causes; most importantly, we strive to support the great mission of the Catholic Church in our world.
I hope that I will be one of the strong Catholics of our age, who believes in something worthwhile, and believes so strongly, that I will give not only of my excess to see that it lasts. How important it is for each of us to recognize the gift of the past generation of believers in passing on to us what we have today! If it were not for their perseverance and generosity, our lives and our faith may be quite different than what it is today.
We must believe, deep in our hearts, in our vital role in carrying on this gift as apostles in the new age.