It was too hot a day to be outdoors, but we were all in the cemetery for the burial of our dear colleague. While waiting for the final ceremonies to end, four of the very few teachers I’m close with at work were standing next to me under a huge acacia tree. It was very quiet, until one of them started talking about food. Turned out that one of them was actually having his birthday that day and so we prodded him to treat us all to lunch.
Sheepishly, he grinned and thanked us for our greetings but also apologized because he didn’t have any money with him that day to treat the group to lunch. With so much enthusiasm, one of them took off his cap, turned it upside down and placed a hundred peso bill inside. “Money isn’t a problem,” he enthused. “We will celebrate your birthday today!”
A hundred pesos can’t feed five hungry grown-ups, but this one man’s zeal to organize a party was simply contagious and so we all ended up pitching in our own contributions. Two of them went ahead to buy ingredients for a picnic and instead of going to a fancy restaurant, we decided have barbecue and eat at the office instead.
At lunch break, there was roast fish, grilled pork, seaweed salad, lots of soda and there was cake! We even managed to invite more teachers.
The Miracle of Giving
Now, what if there really was no miracle in Jesus’ feeding of the multitudes? What if He merely used sheer charisma in inspiring everyone who brought packed meals to share what little food they had to those who weren’t able to bring their own? Well, Jesus has done wonders and continues to do wonders in our lives today; there is no doubt about that. What I’m trying to point out is that we too, can actually share in this wonderful act of making wonders for others.
On that day, we did not only share food; we shared our blessings and our friendship (and of course, we discovered how far a hundred pesos and a lot of enthusiasm can go!)
There is No Lack
Of course there are times when we feel reluctant to give. Fear is holding us back. Fear of not having enough left for ourselves and our families. But as wise men said, giving is an act of faith. When we give, we tell Life that there is more than enough for today and that more of this will arrive to sustain our needs tomorrow.
It is possible to be able to let go of this fear. We only have to ask and He will show us how. Little by little, we will begin to understand and distinguish that thin line between judicious giving and imprudent spending. Then there would be no lack.
It wasn’t long since I really, really took the effort to let go of this fear. As to where this determination came from, I’m not so sure but it certainly feels exciting to truly give without counting the cost (must be St. Ignatius’ influence). And so if you ask me now about how far I’ve gone on my journey toward developing the habit of “cheerful giving” I would say not very far, but I am inviting you to try to come with me on this journey. You can definitely turn back anytime you like.
What do you get out of this experiment? Nothing, actually. Just a chance to find out what’s at the end of the road — or what lies after the next curve.
So far I discovered that sharing what I have now (be it money, time or energy) and worrying less about tomorrow usually brought me more of what I gave away! Trust me, there were plenty of times when I was so tempted to stick my UMID card on that GSIS kiosk (for government employees in the Philippines, getting a loan can be done electronically through machines that look like ATMs), but after counting from 1 to 10, the urge usually died down and, by God’s grace, other options just begin to pop up — like magic.
I would be very happy to hear your thoughts on this, or better yet, hear that you’re coming! Feel free to leave your comments below.