Dec. 9: Payback

(Elaine Casap / Unsplash)

Dec. 9: First Saturday of Advent

You received without payment; give without payment (Mt 10:8).

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Sometimes when I am driving around town, I get miffed when I choose to yield to another driver, a cyclist or a pedestrian and don’t get a wave of thanks. After all, I have acted graciously, and I want my generosity properly acknowledged! Indeed, lack of gratitude from others is both a pet peeve and a spiritual obstacle for me.

The wish to have my gift appreciated is rooted in a desire to occupy the moral high ground, in a need to be seen as “Lady Bountiful.” It has occurred to me that perhaps all those unappreciative drivers, cyclists and pedestrians may be sent from God to provide me opportunities to practice humility! But in all seriousness, each of us who follows Christ has been given certain gifts, and in today’s Gospel we are enjoined to exercise them on God’s behalf in the world, without any expectation of return.

We are called to do this not because we are good, but because God is God (and God is good). The Lord of heaven and earth has created each one of us and chosen us to be his own, purely and simply because of his overflowing love. He has received no compensation from us, nor could we repay him if we tried. As we have been given, so we are to give: freely, generously and with no expectation of thanks.

Even when a magnanimous gesture goes unnoticed or an act of kindness unappreciated, we are to give, and give, and give some more. Christ’s command to his disciples—expressed in four pithy and emphatic Greek words—is meant for our ears, too.

Benevolent God, grant that I may strive to give willingly and unreservedly of myself, bearing witness to the Love that created and sustains me. Amen.

For today’s readings, click here.

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