Be most generous without feeling entitled

Be most generous without feeling entitled

Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

This is what Christ is telling us and is doing so with his own example. Being God, he emptied himself to become man and to bear all the sins of men by dying on the cross, all for the purpose of saving mankind. (cfr. Phil 2,7)

He reiterated this point when he lamented about the domineering sense of entitlement of some of the leading Jews of his time while praising the poor widow who put all that she had into the temple treasury. (cfr. Mk 12,38-44)

While it’s true that we obviously are entitled to our rights, we should not feel entitled to privileges and favors that are above our rights and needs. If they come and we cannot avoid them, then let’s be thankful.

But let’s be reminded that these privileges, favors and blessings are meant for us to strengthen our desire to serve and not to be served. But as it is, we should try to avoid them, since they tend only to spoil and corrupt us.

We have to be most wary when we happen to enjoy some privileged positions or status in life because we tend to think that we deserve more entitlements. And not only would we expect them. We may even demand them for us.

We should banish this temptation as soon as it makes its appearance felt in us. On the contrary, we should follow the example of Christ who, in spite of who he was, just wanted to serve.

Remember what Christ said once: “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” (Mt 6,1)

We need to acquire the mentality of a servant which is actually the mentality of Christ himself. Let us readjust our human standards to conform to what is actually proper to us as taught and lived by Christ. We usually look down on the status of servants. This has to change! We should be convinced that by becoming a servant we would be making ourselves like Christ. Let’s say NO to entitlements.

In the meantime, let’s learn the precious lesson Christ wants to impart to us in that episode where he praised the poor widow who gave two small coins to the temple treasury more than the rich ones who put a lot of money.

The lesson to learn is that generosity is not a matter of how much we give but rather of total detachment from the things of this world so that our heart can only be for God. We therefore have to be wary of our strong, if often subtle, attachment to the things of this world such that our heart would at best be a divided heart, which is actually an impossibility.

That’s because in our relation with God, there is no middle ground. It is either we are with him completely or not at all. We have to overcome that strong tendency to think that we can be partly with God and partly with our own selves, even if we can say that we are giving God 99% of what we have and keep only 1% for us.

We have to give all. In fact, with God we have to give our very own selves, and not only things, not only some possessions. Remember Christ telling us that we have to love God with “all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Mt 22,37)