Thursday, July 9, 2009

Why We Give Without Counting The Cost

Genesis 44:18-21 -29; 45:1-5

Today’s First Reading continues the interrogatory of the sons of Jacob before Pharaoh’s counselor, who is in fact their brother Joseph. It is Judah, the eldest of Jacob’s sons, who speaks first:
Judah: My lord, I beg you, allow your servant to speak earnestly with my lord, and do not become angry with your servant, for you are equal to Pharaoh himself. My lord asked his servants, “Do you have a father or a brother?” We answered, “We have an aged father, and there is a young son born to him in his old age. His brother is dead, and he is the only one of his mother’s sons left, and his father dotes on him.”
Then you said to your servants: “Bring him down to me, that I can see him with my own eyes. Unless your youngest brother comes back with you, you will never come into my presence again. When we returned to your servant, our father, we told him what my lord had said.
Our father said, “Go back and buy some more food for our family.” So we reminded him, “We cannot return there, or see that man again, unless our youngest brother is with us. “ And then he said, “You know that my wife bore me two sons. Once of them was taken from me, and I said, ‘Surely he has been torn to pieces by wild beasts’, and I have never seen him since. If you take this one from me, too, and harm comes to him, you will send my gray head down to the nether world in grief.”

At that point, Joseph could no longer control himself in the presence of his attended, and he cried out, “Have everyone withdraw from me!” So, there was no one else with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. But his sobbing was so loud that the Egyptians heard him, and the news reached Pharaoh’s palace.

Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still in good health?” But his brothers were unable to answer him, because they were dumbfounded in his presence.
“Come closer to me”, he told his brothers. When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you once sold into Egypt. But now, do not be distressed, and do not reproach yourselves for having sold me here. It was for the sake of saving lives that the LORD has sent me here ahead of you.”

Psalm 105, verses 16-21:
The LORD called down a famine on the land,
and ruined all the crops that sustained them.
He sent a man before them,
Joseph, whom they had sold as a slave.

They weighed him down with shackles,
and bound him with chains,
Until what he had foretold came to pass,
and the world of the LORD proved him true.

The king sent word to release him;
the ruler of peoples set him free.
He made him master of his household,
ruler over all his possessions.

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Jesus said to his apostles, “As you go, preach this message:

The kingdom of heaven is near.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, and drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep.

Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is worthy, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. I tell you the truth; it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the Day of Judgment than for that town.

Why We Give Without Counting The Cost

Above all, our very nature requires us to be interested in others. When there is something beautiful within us, we desire to communicate it to others. When we see others who are worse off than we are, we desire to help them with something of ours. This need is so original, so natural, that it is within us before we are conscious of it. We call it the law of existence. We perform works of charity to satisfy this need.

We become ourselves to the extent that we live this need and this requirement. Communicating to others gives us the experience of completing ourselves. This is so true that, if we are unable to give, we experience ourselves as incomplete beings.

To be interested in others, to communicate with others, enables us to fulfill the supreme and, indeed, the only task in life: to become ourselves; to complete ourselves.

It is Christ who has enabled us to understand the ultimate reason for this, revealing the ultimate law of being and of life: charity. The supreme law of our beings is to share in the being of others, to live in communion.

Only Jesus Christ reveals this to us, because he knows what everything truly is, who God, from whom we are born, truly is, what Being truly is.

I am able to understand the word “charity” when I remember that the Son of God, loving us, did not send us his riches (as he was able to do); instead, he became poor like one of us. He “shared” our nothingness.

We do works of charity in order to live like Christ.
Monsignor Luigi Giussani (Magnificat, July 9, 2009)

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