Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Poverty, joy and generosity: Daily Mass Homily--Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

(Listen to this homily here).

            St. Paul speaks about an apparent contradiction to open the first reading.  He tells the Corinthians, “We want you to know, brothers and sisters, of the grace of God that has been given to the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, the abundance of their joy and their profound poverty overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.”  The people in Macedonia apparently were going through some difficult times.  They faced profound poverty—and they were joyful?  Generous?  This doesn’t make sense from a materialistic or consumerist society.
            But in my life experience, it is true.  It seems that the poorer the region, the more joyful and generous people actually are.  I have seen this firsthand in Ghana when I have had the chance to visit my friends.
            Here’s one example.  A year and a half ago I was in Ghana with a number of parishioners from St. John’s—including some high school students.  One of our high school students gave out a bag of Starburst to a bunch of kids.  She gave away the last Starburst and another child showed up.  We watched as a little girl—four or five years old—unwrapped her piece of candy, broke it in half and gave it to her friend.
            Yesterday I spoke about detachment.  This is so important for us in a place with everything.  Poverty—detachment—helps puts things in perspective and makes us realize whatever we have is God’s.
            And this comes straight from God Himself!  Listen again to how our first reading closed today: “For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that for your sake he became poor although he was rich…”  Jesus emptied himself—detached himself if you will—to become poor.
            Like the Macedonians…like Jesus himself…may we become poor in order to be joyful and generous.

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