BEING BLESSED BY GIVING

A monk had a brother living in the world who was poor, and so he supplied him with all he received from his work. But the more the monk supplied, the poorer the brother became. So the monk went to tell an old man about it. The old man said to him, “If you want my advice, do not give him anything more, but say to him, ‘Brother, when I had something I supplied you; now bring me what you get from your work.’ Take all he brings you, and whenever you see a stranger or a poor man, give him some of it, begging him to pray for him.”

The monk went away and did this. When his secular brother came, he spoke to him as the old man had said, and the brother went sadly away. The first day, taking some vegetables from his field, he brought them to the monk. The monk took them and gave them to the old men, begging them to pray for his brother, and after the blessing he returned home. In the same way, another time, the brother brought the monk some vegetables and three loaves, which he took, doing as on the first occasion, and having received the blessing he went away.

And the secular brother came a third time bringing many provisions, some bread, and fish. Seeing this, the monk was full of wonder, and he invited the poor so as to give them refreshment. Then he said to his brother, “Do you not need a little bread?” The other said to him, “No, for when I used to receive something from you, it was like fire coming into my house and burning it, but now that I receive nothing from you, God blesses me.”

Then the monk went to tell the old man all that had happened, and the old man said to him, “Do you not know that the work of the monk is of fire, and where it enters, it burns? It helps your brother more to do alms with what he reaps from his field, and to receive the prayers of the saints and thus to be blessed.”

Source | Sr. Benedicta Ward, The Wisdom of the Desert Fathers
(Oxford: SLG Press, 1986), pages 43-44

CONSIDER THIS

Blessings sometimes show up in unrecognizable disguises. One very common disguise is the art of giving generously and without counting the cost.

MAKE YOUR OWN SANDWICH

Once upon a time there was a priest who spent part of each night making sandwiches for the homeless. He travelled around the poorer parts of the city and distribute them. Even though his day was already full, this late night activity didn’t overwhelm him. It actually made him happy.  he didn’t do it out of guilt, duty or any external pressure.  He shared freely and openly in a way that made a difference for him,  Even when the street people rebuffed his offer of food, he didn’t feel rejected or angry, because he wasn’t doing it for the reward or acceptance or appreciation.

The media found out about him and printed a story about his work. Instantly his reputation grew and he became a minor celebrity. The public, even his fellow priests, started sending him money to support his ministry.  Much to their surprise he sent back the money to everyone with a one-line note that said: “Make your own damn sandwich!”

Source | based on a story told in Robert Wicks, Riding the Dragon
(Sorin Books, 2013) page 34

CONSIDER THIS

  • What is easier, to write a check or to make a sandwich?
  • What is most gospel-like, to write a check or to make a sandwich and give it to the hungry?
  • What propels your acts of kindness and compassion? Guilt? Duty? External pressures? Fear of rejection? Desire to be liked and lauded? Or do you do what you do out of pure desire and delight?

THE DANGERS OF MINE

An old woman died and was taken to the Judgment Seat by the angels. While examining her records, however, the Judge could not find a single act of charity performed by her except for a carrot she had once given to a starving beggar.

Such, however, is the power of a single deed of love that it was decreed that she be taken up to heaven on the strength of that carrot.  The carrot was brought to court and given her.  The moment she caught hold of it, it began to rise as if pulled by some invisible string, lifting her up toward the sky.

A beggar appeared. He clutched the hem of her garment and was lifted with her; a third person caught hold of the beggar’s foot and was lifted too. Soon there was a long line of persons being lifted up to heaven by that carrot.  And, strange as it may seem, the woman did not feel the weight of all those people who held onto her; in fact, since she was looking heavenward, she did not see them.

Higher and higher they rose until they were almost near the heavenly gates. That is when the woman looked back to catch a last glimpse of the earth and saw this whole train of people behind her.

She was indignant! She gave an imperious wave of her hand and shouted, “Off! Off, all of you! This carrot is mine!”

In making her imperious gesture, she let go of the carrot for a moment – and down she fell with the entire train.

Source | Anthony de Mello, Taking Flight, pages 137-138.
[Prayer of the Frog, Volume 1]

PONDER AND CONSIDER 

There is only one cause for every evil on earth:  “This belongs to me!”

ASKING FOR A PUSH

It’s 3 a.m. and Maurice and Golda are woken up by a loud banging on their front door. Mamice gets up and opens the door to a drunken stranger standing in the pouring rain. “Can I have a push?” says the drunk.

“No you can’t,” says Maurice, “it’s three o’clock in the moming. Please go away, you’ll wake the children.”

Maurice shuts the door and goes back to bed.

“Who was that?” asks Golda.

“Just some drunk, dear, asking for a push,” Maurice replies.

“So did you help him?” Golda asks.

“No I didn’t. It’s 3 a.m. and it’s pouring rain,” replies Maurice.

Golda says, “Shame on you, Maurice. Have you already forgotten when our car broke down about six months ago and those two men helped us? I think you should help the man outside.”

So Maurice reluctantly does as he is told. He gets dressed, goes out into the pouring rain and calls out, “Hello, are you still there?”

“Yes,” comes back the answer.

“Do you still need a push?” Maurice shouts.

“Yes, please!” comes the reply from the dark.

“So where are you?” asks Maurice.

“Over here on the swing,” replies the drunk.

Source | David Minkoff,   Jewish Jokes: A Clever Kosher Compilation

PONDER AND CONSIDER

People will continue to need a push in life from time to time. We may resist at first, making all kinds of excuses. We may give the push for the wrong reason or because we have received a push from someone else ourselves. And when we do in fact decide to go and offer a helping hand we may discover we have been taken for a ride! Then what?

  • What motivates you to help others?