Monday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
(I Kings 21:1-16; Matthew 5:38-42)
Two women come to the rectory door asking five dollars for gas. The older one explains that she needs to take the other, her daughter, to the hospital but has no gas. What should the priest do? It is a small sum, but perhaps enough for a snort of cocaine. The priest sends the women to the parish office where the secretary will call a courtesy service that provides rides for people with emergency needs. Yet he wonders if he is resisting Jesus’ directive in the gospel today.
When Jesus commands his disciples to “’give to the one who asks of you…,’” he certainly is making a radical demand. Anyone these days who gives to all with requests of him will soon find his/her resources exhausted. (Think of all the junk mail you receive.) Yet this is the new way of living that Jesus is proclaiming. Disciples will heed his words as best they can and share their material assets for the sake of God’s kingdom.
Following Jesus means denying ourselves in ways that some will consider self-destructive. But there is no need for us to fear. Reaching the fullness of generosity is a gradual process that avoids harm to self. Practicing care for the poor as a way of living, as we grow older we will more find ourselves freer of material things. Still we should not be mindless in our generosity but always seek the true good of our beneficiaries.