Living in the Economy of Gift – Pastor’s Reflection (September 18, 2017)
It has been said that we begin to worship when we realize that we have received as gifts what we could never buy, earn, take, or make. Once begun, the life of worship intensifies this very awareness. We begin to recognize the gifts of the elements, then the nurture and beauty that flow from them. I am quick to recognize sun, air, and water as gifts, then I realize that even though I paid for my bread, that loaf has origins in what has been freely bestowed. Next, I realize that you are a gift, for you supply what lacks in me. Most slowly I perceive the gift of my life, not only in general but in particular.
Christian worship, as established by Jesus in his own humanity, has at its roots an intense gratitude for the works of God, and this comes from souls who have received themselves as one of those works. When I accept how the divine artisanship has molded my individuality, then I can be free from the spirit of comparison that stifles so much of our real thriving. Grateful for myself, I come to the Mass as a response of thanksgiving to God’s initiatives and so fulfill the commission given to me in my baptism. This, more than hearing a sermon, or singing a hymn, comprises the essential work of those who attend Mass. This posture is more than prayerful. Grateful people live differently.
If I receive myself as a gift, I give myself as a gift. If I recognize the gift of God in me then I perceive myself as a living surplus. This outlook marks the People of God. If the Eucharist is the food of the Church then self-donation is the strength it nourishes. Christian women and men have cheerfully given their lives away as martyrs, missionaries, and as every kind of religious. They have done the same as Christian spouses, and this same spirit impels many professionals to take less pay and work for the Church. Self-reception and self-donation sets in motion the phalanx of volunteers, without which the life of the Church cannot be imagined, and without which the life of our parish simply is not possible.
In coming days, the parish will present you with opportunities to make a donation of your time, your talent, and your energy. God invites each of us to fulfillment through self-donation, but His call comes to each of us in His time and in His way. The parish needs you to help, but even more it needs you to discern the ways in which you are called to help.
Any self-giving brings us full circle. Having recognized abundance we become part of abundance. I perceive that I live because of gifts more than because of earnings and makings, and that perception impels me to become part of the giftedness of others. As I survey our parish I perceive that it thrives on an array of services it could never pay for, and by that it testifies to the God who has gathered it.
Next Sunday, September 24th, please come with open ears and an open heart to consider what growth God has readied you for.