We’ve invited our dotMagis bloggers to reflect on the individual lines of the Prayer for Generosity, attributed to St. Ignatius.
Teach me not to be stingy, God. Instruct me in ways that avoid greed. Jesus, you know how hard it is for me to pray this. I have so much, and I like my stuff. Do I really want to let you heal me from a lack of generosity?
Yesterday I went through my closet looking for something special to wear to a wedding. The first choice was a definite no. Even though it was a bit tight, back into the closet it went, because I might lose weight, right? The second dress wasn’t dressy enough. The third option might be a bit out of style, but I wore it on a special occasion, so I vacillated before returning it to my closet. I knew I really ought to give away at least one of these dresses, but I had trouble letting go.
This morning the scrupulosity kicked in, and I recalled a harsh quote from St. Basil the Great: “The coat that lies in your chest is stolen from the naked, the shoes that rot in your house are stolen from the person who goes unshod, the money you laid aside is stolen from the poverty-stricken.”
But before I give myself an “F” in generosity, I remember that I am generous with my time and energy. I’m willing to share my talents. Generosity involves all three: time, talent, and treasure.
Where is my treasure? Teach me, Lord. Suddenly I hear Jesus: “Did you notice that widow donating a few cents?” We are passing the treasury. (Mark 12:41–44) “Of course you noticed the rich man; he was so ostentatious, making a big show of his gift,” Jesus says.
He pulls me by the hand, a little closer, so I can hear what he is about to say. I use my five senses to notice the scene. I am surrounded by disciples, leaning in. “Now that’s what I call generosity,” Jesus says, in a hushed tone amidst lots of commotion around us. “She gave her whole livelihood, putting the needs of others before her own.”
I’m not sure I understand why her gift was equivalent to all the others, and then some. What can her two cents buy? Jesus tells me to flip my thinking. “It’s not what her gift will buy; it’s what her gift says about the intention of her big heart.”
I ponder my own intentions. “Look around you,” Jesus says. “What do you see?” Jesus is asking me to pay attention. If only I could do a better job of that. “Follow my example,” Jesus says. “Do what I do.”
I realize that the old stuff in my closet really isn’t my greatest asset. My time is.
Jesus, you go the extra mile. (Matthew 5:41) You forgive. You teach generosity using metaphors and people around me whose stories are rich. To be generous means offering words that encourage and performing loving actions.
With you, I can do it, dear Jesus.