The Ripples of Generosity, Unseen

Years ago I met a woman who became a regular at a rosary prayer group I was leading. For a long time, she was tentative about getting to know the others in the group, but she kept coming. The women of the group provided a warm welcome to this busy mother finishing her college degree while raising her family. Finally came graduation, and to her surprise and delight, all the women from the prayer group had generously pitched in for some gifts that recognized her accomplishments. That singular day of generosity had ripple effects that we did not know about until much later. Over time, this woman experienced a true reversion to her Catholic faith. Eventually her marriage was blessed in the church, and her husband converted to Catholicism too. Years later, she revealed that as she was sizing things up and deciding to come back to the church, she was simultaneously meeting regularly with Jehovah's Witnesses who visited her home.

I asked her why she chose to return to the Catholic Church in the end. Her answer was no surprise: it was the generosity of the Catholic families who had reached out to her; charity was a hallmark of their faith. She said that in all her discussions with the Jehovah's Witnesses, never once was she invited to their homes or tables. Generosity's ripples had won her over. And it didn't stop there—those ripples reached her husband and children and the people she meets today.

The work of generosity is never limited to an isolated situation. Like a seed planted in the ground, generosity has a growth that is guided by God. Each time we lavish someone with something good, true, or beautiful, there's no telling how far the blessings might reach.

Just the other day I got an email from a long-distance pal. She told me that her aunt gave her a generous financial gift that will enable her to do some traveling. This friend is soon scheduled to come my way. Now this aunt's intention was to bless her niece. And indeed she has. But the ripple effects of auntie's gift will reach out and bless me, too, as I enjoy a long-anticipated visit with my friend.

The Magi remind us that life is too short not to live as generously as our hearts and means allow. And to be ever grateful for the unexpected appearance of Magi in our time, who visit their gifts upon us, and whose love overflows into unseen rippling wakes that they leave behind.

The point is this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work.

As it is written, "He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures forever."

He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your resources and increase the harvest of your righteousness.

You will be enriched in every way for great generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God; for the rendering of this service not only supplies the wants of the saints but also overflows in many thanksgivings to God. (2 Cor. 9:6-12)

1/12/2012 5:00:00 AM