Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Cheerful Giver and TOB

Mary's "freedom of the gift" was
beautifully expressed in her response
to Gabriel's message.
In today's first reading, St. Paul is continuing his friendly badgering of the Corinthians with regard to the collection for the needy faithful in Jerusalem. Yesterday he pointed to the example of Jesus' self-emptying of his divine prerogatives "so that you might become rich." Today he gets more to the dispositions of the givers. (This is where "God loves a cheerful giver" comes from.)

What impressed me today was how the Theology of the Body calls for precisely the same dispositions that Paul emphasizes in today's passage from 2 Corinthians. Pope John Paul spoke of it in terms of the "freedom of the gift." Without that freedom, can we even speak of "love" in a relationship that involves the gift of self?

But the Gospel tells us of another important element in the gift of self. It is interiority. Without that reserve (we could call it modesty), one might honestly ask if there really is a gift of self and not a transaction or a publicity stunt in which the "self" is a form of currency. (There seems to be a lot of this happening online, don't you think?)

Today's Mass readings invite us to reflect on the quality of our relationships, especially the ones that involve us most deeply. Are the qualities of freedom and interiority prominent?


Anonymous said...

Our pastor once urged us (with reference to the collection basket) "Give until it hurts. If it doesn't hurt you haven't given enough." This is so with personal relationships, too, as those relationships are not always 50/50 give and take, sometimes we're called to give/be more for the other. But as we know, we have to have a reserve to draw on, whether it be in our bank account or our interior selves. We can't give what we don't have. I thought your blog post from yesterday meshed with this, too, as we can only forgive our enemies if we have that sense of our own forgiveness, a reserve of grace. I certainly appreciated today's blog post, Sister Anne, as I've been reading up on interiority, particularly the Ignatian Examination of Consciousness. - Jean

Sr Anne Flanagan said...

Ignatius gave us a real treasure, didn't he? From his own interiority!

Van Bensett said...

Hi Sister Anne:

Loved the post. I have done a lot of reading about Mother Teresa this past year. What surprised me is how the charism = loving trust, total surrender, and joyful (cheerful) giving all relate directly to Theology of the Body and marriage.

Our Lady gives all these examples in the Annunciation and Visitation that teach us to be both self-giving and life-giving.

Enjoy your blog keep up the good work!

Sr Anne Flanagan said...

Thank you, Van! Since ultimately the Theology of the Body is about the Trinitarian life, I suppose we are invited (and challenged!) to discern it in all the lives of the saints! I am about to begin my annual retreat, which will be on the themes of Theology of the Body, with retreat meditations led by Dr. Michael Waldstein (translator of the tome). Praying that I might take this in more fully and truly, so as to be able to communicate it effectively.