The sisters tease me mercilessly about my love for freebies. I will walk two blocks out of my way when free samples are being handed out on the streets of Chicago and when I get home, I gleefully pull out the treasures I have gotten for free. These treasures have been particularly abundant lately. We had a cabinet full of little cereal boxes, and now we have a shelf full of tiny tubes of toothpaste. And one bottle of a new sports drink in the fridge. If it's free, I'm there.
Naturally I took notice when today's Gospel said, "Freely you have received, freely give."
When our Lord sent the 12 on mission, he expected them to be out there, on the streets, giving stuff away. Only the freebies they were sent with weren't bottles of soft drinks or packets of mints. They were signs of God's life-giving power: "Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, expel demons." The gift they had received without cost, they were to give without cost. It is a way of saying that the Apostles were to participate in God's generosity; to be in communion with the Giver of every good gift.
"What do you have that you did not receive?" St. Paul challenged the Corinthians. Anything worth having, anything that will last beyond this life, can only be received for free. For me in particular it is a call to examine my spirit of poverty. To the extent that I really live my vow of poverty, I will more accurately recognize that nothing I have, nothing I make use of, was due me as some sort of wage; I didn't earn it; I didn't pay for it. Freely I have received.
That got me thinking about how urgent it is for the New Evangelization that we really give credit where credit is due. If we do not recognize what we have "received without cost," we will be hampered in making that free gift to others.