The Blessing of Giving!

Mercy As Post-Easter Mandate!
Fr. Justine J. Dyikuk

Shikrot Mpwi – Sunday Synopsis with Fr. Justine J. Dyikuk

13th Sunday of the Year, A – 2nd July 2023

Readings: 2 Kings 4:8-11,13-16; Responsorial Psalm Ps 88:2-3,16,19; Rom 6:3-4,8-11 & Gospel Matthew 10:37-42.

Theme: The Blessing of Giving!

Sunday Synopsis

Today’s first reading presents us with the uncanny generosity of a Shunammite family that provided for the Prophet Elisha. The second reading also buttresses the point of giving when he reminds us that Christ gave himself up for us in order that we might gain the righteousness of God. By speaking on the cost of discipleship, Jesus reminds us about our obligation to the needs of the Church and those of our brothers and sisters while indicating that until it pains, giving remains a mere outward show.

Introduction

Friends in Christ, food and shelter constitute basic human needs. When these are available in a family, life becomes easy as other human needs like clothing and education fall in place. However, in the African context, what seemingly makes a family complete is the blessing of a child. Childless families go through pains while waiting for a miracle. The first reading presents us with this kind of scenario as it tells how Prophet Elisha promised a child to a generous family that had none. The gospel points to the cost of discipleship.

Background and Summary of the Readings  

Our first reading (2 Kings 4:8-11,13-16) narrates the uncanny generosity of a Shunammite family that provided the Prophet Elisha and his servant Gehazi with food and shelter. In appreciation, the Prophet promised them a child. It is obvious that food, shelter, and a decent life were not out of reach for this family. What is crucial was their open-handedness. Their generosity to the Prophet secured them a miracle. It was the miracle of a lifetime because the husband was well off in years.

The second reading (Rom 6:3-4,8-11) also buttresses the point of giving when he reminds us that Christ gave himself up for us in order that we might gain the righteousness of God. It stresses that: “When he died, he died once for all, to sin, so his life now is life with God; and in that way, you too must consider yourselves to be dead to sin but alive for God in Christ Jesus.”

The gospel (Matthew 10:37-42) reveals Jesus’ teaching on the cost of discipleship. It discloses  that Jesus told the apostles that if anyone prefers him to father, mother, son or daughter, that person is not worthy of the kingdom. Jesus goes ahead to charge them to take up their crosses daily and follow him noting that: “Anyone who finds his life will lose it [but] anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.” He assured that anyone who is generous to a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward and anyone who helps the needy will certainly not lose his reward.

Pastoral Lessons 

1. Be a Thanks-Giver: Today’s first reading teaches us that joyful material generosity brings spiritual blessings: “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).

2. Refrain from Ought-Giving: Considering the story of Ananias and Sapphira who withheld some parts of the money that accrued to them from the sale of land and declared a little before the apostles (Cf. Acts 5:1-11), we are charged to refrain that ought-giving and emulate Jesus’ self-giving sacrifice as the second reading states.

3. Beware of Grudge-Givers: St. Paul charge that “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion” (2 Corinthians 9:7) invites us to give without counting the cost.

4. Take to Qualitative-Giving: Like the Shunammite widow, the widow poor in the gospel gave qualitatively – all that she had – this urges us to embrace qualitative-giving – Abel the just (Cf. Gen 4:4 Cain) did same – St. Paul promises that doing so will make us “prosper” (Cf. 1 Corinthians 16:2).

5. Support the Church: The word of the gospel that: “If anyone who is generous to a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward and anyone who helps the needy will certainly not lose his reward” charges us to support the mission of priests and religious in difficult and poor territories.

Summary Lines

1. Our first reading today presents us with the uncanny generosity of a Shunammite family that provided [for] the Prophet Elisha.

2. The second reading also buttresses the point of giving when he reminds us that Christ gave himself up for us in order that we might gain the righteousness of God.

3. By speaking on the cost of discipleship, Jesus reminds us about our obligation to the needs of the Church and those of our brothers and sisters.

4. In the sight of God, a little with a pure heart is better that much gotten from loot.

5. Apparently, until it pains, giving is only a show.

Conclusion

In conclusion, our liturgy invites us to emulate the Shunammite family by being qualitative givers. We must shun being ought-givers – giving because we ought to give not because we are convinced to. We must also disassociate ourselves from grudge-giving which entails complaining while giving. However, we are challenged to learn from Christ who gave his life for our sake by being thanks-givers. In the sight of God, a little with a pure heart is better that much gotten from loot. Apparently, until it pains, giving is only a show. Giving a little while wallowing in plenty is a sign of small-faith just as giving lavishly even in poverty is a sign of an elephant-faith. Always remember: “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). Have a fabulous week ahead!

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