Our parish just finished Bundle Sunday Weekend, a bi-annual round-up of gently-used clothing and small appliances that are collected and donated to the St. Vincent de Paul Society. With six of my eight children still living at home, Bundle Sunday is an event at our house. About two weeks before the collection date, I instruct my husband and children to take everything that doesn't fit or that they no longer want to wear and put them into designated oversized green garbage bags. We easily fill seven bags.
I often don't check the quality of the clothing in the bags. When we hand them over to the St. Vincent de Paul volunteers, I feel some uneasiness because I wonder how many of our donated items are in such poor condition that no one should wear them. And sometimes I keep items of clothing that I no longer wear just because they are still in good condition and I don't want to part with them. Do you do the same thing?
In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus talks about giving Caesar what belongs to Caesar and giving God what belongs to God. We give God ourselves because we belong to Him. But like the worn-out, damaged clothing we give away although no one should wear it, how often do we give God our second best? How often do we rush through our prayers or begrudgingly give our time and ability? And like the unused items we can't part with, how often do we give only from our surplus and say no when we can say yes?
When I reluctantly share my time and gifts, I feel a sense of dissatisfaction, as if I should have done better and given more of myself. But when I give 100% of myself, even to the point of exhaustion, I have a sense of joy and gratitude that I was given the gift of making a difference in the life of another person.
Jesus admonished us: "give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap, for the measure you give will be the measure you get back." (Luke 6:38)
Life is for sharing and giving, for loving and squeezing out every last drop of the time and gifts that God has given us. In other words, life is about a complete sacrifice of ourselves wherever God has placed us, doing all things well for love of Him. It isn't for keeping the very best for ourselves, or holding back and sharing only that which we don't need or want.
And so for today and every day, be a generous giver. "May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you." (St. Teresa of Avila)
Copyright 2015: Terry McDermott
Photo: "Helping Hands" by Anita Patterson. Under a MorgueFile license.
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