A Penitent Blogger

Mindful of my imperfections, seeking to know Truth more deeply and to live Love more fully.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus? Cum vix iustus sit securus?
Recordare, Iesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae: Ne me perdas illa die...

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Give it up

Most of us like to have things of our own.

Today’s readings remind us that the greatest rewards are to be found in giving up the things that are our own.

The first reading (Sirach 35:1-12) begins by reminding us that this is more than giving up material possessions, but even giving up our own will and desires in order to obey the law of the Lord.

To keep the law
is a great oblation,
and he who observes the commandments
sacrifices a peace offering….

To refrain from evil
pleases the LORD,
and to avoid injustice
is an atonement….

The just one’s offering
enriches the altar
and rises as a sweet odor before the Most High.
The just one’s sacrifice is most pleasing,
nor will it ever be forgotten.

The religious actions of the unrepentant, on the other hand, are not so successful.

But offer no bribes (to the Lord),
these he does not accept!
Trust not in sacrifice of the fruits of extortion.
For he is a God of justice,
who knows no favorites.

Part of being righteous, of course, entails giving up material possessions for the aid of the poor.

In works of charity
one offers fine flour,
and when he gives alms
he presents his sacrifice of praise.

Yet righteous living and altruism are not enough. We must be also generous in the worship and thanksgiving we give to the Lord.

Appear not before the LORD empty-handed,
for all that you offer is in fulfillment of the precepts….

In a generous spirit pay homage to the LORD,
be not sparing of freewill gifts.

With each contribution show a cheerful countenance,
and pay your tithes in a spirit of joy.

Give to the Most High as he has given to you,
generously, according to your means.

For the LORD is one who always repays,
and he will give back to you sevenfold.

This promise is reaffirmed by our Lord himself in today’s Gospel (Mark 10:28-31):

Peter began to say to Jesus,
‘We have given up everything and followed you.”

Jesus said,
“Amen, I say to you,
there is no one who has given up
house or brothers or sisters
or mother or father or children or lands
for my sake
and for the sake of the Gospel
who will not receive a hundred times more
now in this present age:
houses and brothers and sisters
and mothers and children and lands,
(with persecutions),
and eternal life in the age to come.”