In celebration of our fifth anniversary, we’ve invited our dotMagis bloggers to reflect on the individual lines of St. Ignatius’s Prayer for Generosity.
Imagine making a reservation at a five-star restaurant. When you show up, the owner comes out and says to you, “Come and dine! But there will be no cost for you!” I think most of us would love receiving a free meal, but we may be suspicious of the owner. Perhaps it’s a ploy to get us to return. But what if we learn that the owner’s generosity is out of genuine goodness and that there are no strings attached?
At the Easter Vigil we heard God’s generous invitation in Isaiah: “You who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost” (55:1). God offers us a model of hospitality we are called to offer others. As I prepare to get married next month, my fiancée Sarah and I have talked a lot about our desire for a ministry of hospitality. We want not only to invite friends over for a meal or a place to spend the night, but for our home to be a place where people find peace and friendship, without the expectation that they have a favor to return.
The Rule of St. Benedict says that all guests “are to be welcomed as Christ.” The generosity of hospitality is paramount for many monasteries, but it should be for us as well. Joyce Meyer once said that being Christian means generosity without expecting something in return. If someone asks you to help him move you say yes not to save up a favor from that person for the future, but because you’re Christian! You give and keep no ledger of favors given or owed.
Sarah and I have also discussed our commitment to tithe. For us that means 10% of our income goes to church and charity. I’ll be the first to admit, it’s very easy to justify not tithing, to count its cost and strain on the budget. But how can we, as believers, respond affirmatively to God’s invitation to dine without cost if we ourselves do not offer the same generosity to our fellow creatures? God offers a model of generous giving not for some distant reward, but so that God’s love can flow out joyfully to others through our human relationships. You and I are a part of a divine plan of generous hospitality.