Selfishness destroys…Generosity creates a higher level of happiness
The Readings today call us to a certain generosity to those who are less fortunate than ourselves, or to help people who find themselves in sudden distress.
Sadly, many people in the world are growing tired of being generous, because there seems to be so many demands on us: especially those with money.
There can be a natural temptation to shrink back and just be generous to our own families. We can easily generalise and say: people are wasteful, or they will spend it on drugs.
So, why does God frequently call us to generosity? I believe the answer is hidden in today’s Gospel: “But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again?
It is good for nothing, and can only be thrown out to be trampled underfoot by men.” ie. our generosity and joyfulness keep us salty and a light in the darkness of others & us!
God (or nature for those who deny God exists), has somehow hard-wired into human beings a direct link between our outward generosity to others and our inner mental health.
Quite simply, a lack of generosity increases poor mental health that eventually separates us from other people and we die a lonely death.
The First Reading outlines the normal concepts of generosity and don’t need elaboration here:
Share your bread with the hungry, and shelter the homeless poor, clothe the man you see to be naked and turn not from your own kin.
There are other, very deep needs that we may not be attentive too, especially as our world speeds up: the simple need to be praised by others; the need to be listened to by others; the need to just “be” with others; the need for a chance to contribute to community/family.
When a baby is born, they need to be touched or they slowly die. As we grow older, the need for physical touches reduces (but doesn’t disappear), while the need for inner touch increases… or at least remains a constant need. When parents “croon” and sing to their little babies, it also touches their inner needs.
Unfortunately, the social media is unable to fulfill the need for personal touch and personal presence of friends, which is leading to an increase in mental illness and suicide.
SALT can be viewed in three ways:
1) salt as an irritant – put salt in your eyes and you will understand what I mean.
2) salt as a taste enhancer – try chips without salt and it’s just not the same!
3) salt as a preserver – before people had fridges and deep freezers, meat was cured with salt.
Parents are great examples of all three types 1, 2 and 3. Children often get irritated by the correction from parents: but some corrections are essential to develop character.
With a good character, a person is preserved from a bad life.
LIGHT not only reveals where things are, but it provides warmth (just ask the baby chickens). When Dads praise their sons and Mothers praise their daughters,
they create a beautiful feeling in the hearts of their children. When parents are regularly present in the lives of their family they are a bright light for them.
When youth sacrifice their time to be present with the youth group, they do so much good and energise the other members, revealing the importance of each other.
When older people share their time as mentors, they become great lights for the younger ones.
Faithful Christians often worry about family members not going to Church. But, through our generosity to others, at some point, they will imitate us and also discover God in new ways.
In their kindness to others they will find answers to life, and learn to appreciate God.
Today God just wants us to be faithful to our deepest humanity = faithfulness to God.
Through our kindness to others we meet God, and teach our children where to find true happiness. May we be encouraged to continue and increase our generosity to the poor with their many faces: hungry, rich & lonely, no money & lonely, abandoned, etc.
Finally, be assured: God never forgets a kindness shown to others. Maybe today, tomorrow or next year, good things for ourselves always follows our generosity.
By Gerard Conlan, OMI