Friday, August 15, 2014

A Generous Life

Kyrie Eleison
Lord, have mercy.

This phrase, in effect, makes up the ancient "Jesus prayer," uttered by the Desert Fathers so many centuries ago.

It is, in a sense, every prayer. 

We need God's mercy, God's generosity without end. 

And it is given to us. Without question. Without hesitation.

We ask, and we receive.

And more often than I'd care to admit, that's where it ends for me.

I ask for God's mercy for myself and my faults, and I receive it.

End of transaction.

But there is a third action God requires of us: 


And so I must ask myself:
"Am I a vessel of God's generosity? Having been filled myself with God's unending mercy, do I then pour that same generosity out to others?"

The generosity of God is not confined only to forgiveness, but God's generosity covers every second of our lives. With each rise of my chest, my life is extended. 

God's generosity is every breath.

And yet, how often are we like the "wicked slave" Jesus speaks of in Matthew 18, who, having received the pity and mercy of his master, seizes his own debtor by the throat? 

The slave is ready to extinguish his debtor's breath, ready to extinguish the generosity of God. 

Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. 

But we do not want to be played for a fool. We know better. We are not going to be swindled.

When we make this choice--to have our reputations as smart or tough over being known for being generous--we have missed the point of life entirely.

To be alive is to have received generously from the hand of God. 

When we withhold mercy, forgiveness, generosity from another, we withhold the gift of life--true, full, abundant life--from another.

In the same way God breathes life into our every second, we can offer the gift of life--a life free from debt, shame, guilt, vengeance, retribution--to our sisters and brothers who walk this earth with us.

God does not need us to be sharp and cunning, calculating who to forgive and who we know will never have the funds to pay us back. Those finely-honed business skills, so heavily rewarded in our society's marketplace, do not make a citizen in the Kingdom of God make.

Freely you have received. Freely give. (Matthew 10:8b)

Jesus instructed all his followers in this way. He also teaches them to preach to the people they encounter with this simple phrase:  "The Kingdom of God is at hand." (10:7)

And indeed, the Kingdom is very near and within us when we live out God's generosity in the world. When we show the same mercy and grant the same absolution that we have received, we bring about the Kingdom of God on earth.  

Kyrie Eleison.

Lord, have mercy on our stingy hearts. May we grow in our awareness of the generosity that extends our lives, and may we, in turn, freely give this gift of life to others. Amen.

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