Generating joy with generosity

I suppose that the notion of “a full measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over” is a little less familiar to us today, when so much of what we buy is pre-packaged, hermetically sealed and clinically weighed, and where you never get more than precisely what you pay for.

Some of us would have to go back more to our childhood days – when we bought food in traditional grocery shops or in markets – to remember the joy that you got when the dealer or the shopkeeper threw in something extra for you as a child. Getting something extra for yourself was a real joy.

Generosity means breaking out of the closed logic of everyone getting their just-desserts and nothing more. It means breaking out of the logic of many models of today’s market economy or business strategies or policies of international solidarity. Of course, books have to be balanced and distributive justice respected, but there will never be a humane world which does not include the notion of generosity which enables those on the margins – and not just on the outward peripheries – to get that little extra which can be the catalyst for helping a person to flourish or even survive.

Those of you who have worked in education know that there are always young people who need that little bit of extra help to get through; not so much a full-scale grind, as a little more personal coaching and encouragement and giving the child the sense that he or she can do it. And you will remember the joy that both child and teacher felt when things went well.

Generosity is never just about plans or strategies or programs. Generosity can never be simply pre-packaged and driven, much less outsourced to others. It is something that touches the very essence of being a person. Being a generous person is part of being a true human being. There will always be something lacking in the make-up of any person who fails to be generous.

Generosity is also of the basic essence of the Christian life. The good Christian is not the one who carries out a series of norms and rules or devotions better than someone else. The believer in Jesus sets out from a totally different ethical platform from a vision where everything is judged in terms of my rights and my entitlements and what I need, to one in which the focus is on the other’s rights and needs and hopes and aspirations. 

Equality is judged not just in “exact-measure-distributive-justice”; true equality means that I work to see that the measure of hope for others is that they experience that generosity which we ourselves would really love to receive.

Generosity is the fundamental ethic of the Christian believer because it is more than a mere ethic. It is an understanding of what life is about and what human interaction is about. Living the Christian life is not about some added-on extras to what is means to be good. It is about a vision of life on a totally different plane. 

Pope Francis tells us that the terms “apostle” and “servant” can never be separated. “They are like the two sides of a medal. Those who proclaim Jesus are called to serve, and those who serve proclaim Jesus,” he said, noting that Jesus, who “came not to be served but to serve,” was the first one to show us this. “A disciple of Jesus cannot take a road other than that of the Master,” Pope Francis observed, adding that if we want to follow Jesus, we must first imitate him, becoming a servant to others. 

Pope Francis continues: “This is the only way to be a disciple of Jesus. His witnesses are those who do as he did; those who serve their brothers and sisters, never tiring of following Christ in his humility, never wearying of the Christian life, which is a life of service.”

The Christian ethic of self-giving and generosity challenges the Church, which is called never to be self-promoting and self-defending or turned-in on itself, but rather to be a place where generosity is the byword and the atmosphere which you breathe at every level. Everyone who encounters the Church must encounter, not a vast organisation with its structures even with its organisations of philanthropy, but a space where you realise that life can be lived within a different vision of welcome and outreach, where the quality of life of the highly qualified professional may be surpassed by the humble person who has no sense of self-pretence.

Without compassion we become blind to the needs of others. Only those possessed of a genuine sense of compassion will be able to identify the real burdens of those who are weighed down and marginalised or who find little hope in their future.

Coming close to Jesus should liberate and not trap people in scruples. But it is also important to remember that the opposite of conformity is not simply doing your own thing; it is being free to discover Jesus, to imitate Jesus and become his imitators in his compassion and generosity.

Finally, I would like to share with you another ‘gem’ from our Holy Father: “To be ready to serve, we need a healthy heart; a heart healed by God, one which knows forgiveness and is neither closed nor hardened ... In this way, available in life, meek of heart and in constant dialogue with Jesus, you will not be afraid to be servants of Christ, and to encounter and caress the flesh of the Lord in the poor of our time. ” 

Let us live with compassion and generosity – this will indeed generate joy!.

- Bishop Les Tomlinson, Catholic Diocese of Sandhurst

I suppose that the notion of “a full measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over” is a little less familiar to us today, when so much of what we buy is pre-packaged, hermetically sealed and clinically weighed, and where you never get more than precisely what you pay for.
Some of us would have to go back more to our childhood days – when we bought food in traditional grocery shops or in markets – to remember the joy that you got when the dealer or the shopkeeper threw in something extra for you as a child. Getting something extra for yourself was a real joy.
Generosity means breaking out of the closed logic of everyone getting their just-desserts and nothing more. It means breaking out of the logic of many models of today’s market economy or business strategies or policies of international solidarity. Of course, books have to be balanced and distributive justice respected, but there will never be a humane world which does not include the notion of generosity which enables those on the margins – and not just on the outward peripheries – to get that little extra which can be the catalyst for helping a person to flourish or even survive.
Those of you who have worked in education know that there are always young people who need that little bit of extra help to get through; not so much a full-scale grind, as a little more personal coaching and encouragement and giving the child the sense that he or she can do it. And you will remember the joy that both child and teacher felt when things went well.
Generosity is never just about plans or strategies or programs. Generosity can never be simply pre-packaged and driven, much less outsourced to others. It is something that touches the very essence of being a person. Being a generous person is part of being a true human being. There will always be something lacking in the make-up of any person who fails to be generous.
Generosity is also of the basic essence of the Christian life. The good Christian is not the one who carries out a series of norms and rules or devotions better than someone else. The believer in Jesus sets out from a totally different ethical platform from a vision where everything is judged in terms of my rights and my entitlements and what I need, to one in which the focus is on the other’s rights and needs and hopes and aspirations. 
Equality is judged not just in “exact-measure-distributive-justice”; true equality means that I work to see that the measure of hope for others is that they experience that generosity which we ourselves would really love to receive.
Generosity is the fundamental ethic of the Christian believer because it is more than a mere ethic. It is an understanding of what life is about and what human interaction is about. Living the Christian life is not about some added-on extras to what is means to be good. It is about a vision of life on a totally different plane. 
Pope Francis tells us that the terms “apostle” and “servant” can never be separated. “They are like the two sides of a medal. Those who proclaim Jesus are called to serve, and those who serve proclaim Jesus,” he said, noting that Jesus, who “came not to be served but to serve,” was the first one to show us this. “A disciple of Jesus cannot take a road other than that of the Master,” Pope Francis observed, adding that if we want to follow Jesus, we must first imitate him, becoming a servant to others. 
Pope Francis continues: “This is the only way to be a disciple of Jesus. His witnesses are those who do as he did; those who serve their brothers and sisters, never tiring of following Christ in his humility, never wearying of the Christian life, which is a life of service.”
The Christian ethic of self-giving and generosity challenges the Church, which is called never to be self-promoting and self-defending or turned-in on itself, but rather to be a place where generosity is the byword and the atmosphere which you breathe at every level. Everyone who encounters the Church must encounter, not a vast organisation with its structures even with its organisations of philanthropy, but a space where you realise that life can be lived within a different vision of welcome and outreach, where the quality of life of the highly qualified professional may be surpassed by the humble person who has no sense of self-pretence.
Without compassion we become blind to the needs of others. Only those possessed of a genuine sense of compassion will be able to identify the real burdens of those who are weighed down and marginalised or who find little hope in their future.
Coming close to Jesus should liberate and not trap people in scruples. But it is also important to remember that the opposite of conformity is not simply doing your own thing; it is being free to discover Jesus, to imitate Jesus and become his imitators in his compassion and generosity.
Finally, I would like to share with you another ‘gem’ from our Holy Father: “To be ready to serve, we need a healthy heart; a heart healed by God, one which knows forgiveness and is neither closed nor hardened ... In this way, available in life, meek of heart and in constant dialogue with Jesus, you will not be afraid to be servants of Christ, and to encounter and caress the flesh of the Lord in the poor of our time. ” 
Let us live with compassion and generosity – this will indeed generate joy!

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