Daily Reflection
June 5th, 1999
M. Janet Barger-Lux
School of Medicine
Tobit 12:1, 5-15, 20
Mark 12:38-44
I saw it in a magazine, this month’s issue.  A full-page advertisement for some kind of closet-organizing system:  “Where do you put the stuff that you’re about?  All that you are?”  You ARE your stuff, it shouted.  Am I?  ARE we?

I picture the grandest piece of new architecture in my city.  Soaring arches.  A great modern cathedral?  In a sense that is all too real, yes.  But its soaring arches lead, not to a space for liturgical celebration or solitary prayer, but to a marketplace.  Does that shopping center really celebrate all that we are?

Today’s readings celebrate righteousness.  Not self-righteousness, as Kathleen Norris points out (in Amazing Grace: a Vocabulary of Faith), but rather “a willingness to care for the most vulnerable people in (our) culture.”  But a powerful part of our culture turns deprivation on its head.  Those who already have more than they need are made to feel deprived, to want and want and want, and the same time to grow less and less aware of the needs of others.

O Lord, give us the gift of generosity.  If we fear it, purge us of that fear.  Heal our selfishness, and bring us to a greater awareness of the needs of others.  Lead us to give and to receive with joy, as grace-filled givers and graceful receivers.  Inspire us to thank those whom we can help, for giving us occasions to be, in some small way, Your generosity in the world.  Energize those who organize relief efforts of every kind, and bring relief to those whom they serve.  Rescue, too, those among us who are sinking beneath more stuff than they need and more debt than they can handle.  Bring us all to a right relationship with stuff.  Help us to understand that the abundance You offer comes, not from owning (and being owned by!) too much stuff, but by learning how to give it away.

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