We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia; for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.
For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means, begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saints— and this, not merely as we expected; they gave themselves first to the Lord and, by the will of God, to us, so that we might urge Titus that, as he had already made a beginning, so he should also complete this generous undertaking among you.
Now as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you—so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking. I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others.
For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
“Of whom much is given, much is expected” (Lk. 12:48). In the past, this quote for me has summed up how I’ve understood generosity.
Working as I do at a Jesuit high school, I hear St. Ignatius’ Prayer for Generosity an average of three times per day. In between classes, over the PA, before baseball games. It’s the students’ favorite prayer, without question.
You’d think I would have down the meaning of generosity by now, but reflecting on today’s first reading makes me wonder.
The above quote can make it seem that generosity comes from excess. You’ve got plenty of something, so why not share it? It won’t hurt you in the long run.
The Macedonians from today’s first reading set a much higher bar for generosity. We learn that their generosity comes from “affliction” and “profound poverty.” Much like the widow sharing her final two coins, they give not out of excess, but out of love.
True generosity, they remind us, is nothing short of imitating our Lord Jesus, who held nothing back from the ones he loved, no matter what the cost.
—Dan Dixon, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic from the Midwest Province currently working at Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland to create the Welsh Academy, a grades 6-8 middle school for families of modest economic means.
A Prayer for True Generosity
Lord, teach me to be truly generous.
Teach me to serve others like You did.
To give, when I have little to spare.
To heal, when I myself need healing.
To toil, when I’d prefer to have the day off.
To be grateful, when I feel underappreciated,
For I’ll know then that I’ll be very much like You.
—Adapted by Dan Dixon, SJ, from St. Ignatius’ Prayer for GenerosityPlease share the Good Word with your friends!