Cultivating a Spirit of Generosity

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2016/09/02 at 12:00 AM


  • During his time as pastor of the small parish of Ars, St. John Vianney was well known for his austere lifestyle. Though diocesan priests do not take a formal vow of poverty, parish priests in the 19th century often lived very poor lives.
  • Certainly the patron saint of parish priests was no different. St. John wished to live the same sort of life as his poor parishioners, and so he did not permit himself many of the creature comforts he could have availed himself of.
  • Yet when one visits his parish church in Ars, France, and tours the building that was his rectory, one notices that although his home was quite simple and not terribly comfortable, St. John did have very beautiful vestments!
  • This is because St. John Vianney believed that poverty ends at the Communion rail. In other words, there is nothing too good for God! Our Lord deserves only the very best that we can give when we come to worship Him.
  • So when it came to purchasing items used for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, St. John Vianney used what little money he had to acquire the nicest things possible. Rather than spending his hard earned money on himself, St. John spent it on God.
  • He was a man who, amongst his many other virtues, had his priorities in line. God had first place in the life of St. John Vianney, and this is why he is a saint.
  • Knowing what’s important in life and keeping our priorities straight is really the theme of our readings today.
  • In our first reading we hear this beautiful story of King Solomon, to whom God appears in a dream offering to answer any request. And what does Solomon ask for?
  • He says, “Give your servant…an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong.”
  • And because Solomon asked for the gift of wisdom rather then riches, a long life, or the defeat of his enemies, God is pleased with him and happily grants his request.
  • In his considerable wisdom Solomon knew what was important to ask for, and God, in turn, gave Solomon a wisdom that became renown throughout the world.
  • Today’s Responsorial Psalm, too, speaks of how we should value God’s laws above thousands of gold and silver pieces, of how we should value God’s command more than gold, however fine.
  • Of course our Gospel today speaks of the value of salvation, and how the person who understands the value of salvation will joyfully do whatever is necessary to attain it.
  • Following upon last week’s Gospel that spoke of the separation of the weeds and wheat and how the weeds will be gathered into bundles and burned, today’s Gospel also speaks of the separation of the wicked from the righteous, and the casting of the wicked into “the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”
  • In other words, we must never presume upon salvation, for there will be a reckoning for all of us. The presumption of this Gospel is that some people won’t make it through the pearly gates into the eternal life of Heaven.
  • So that is why we must strive to get our priorities straight now – here on earth – while there is still time to do so.
  • If we take our readings seriously today, we must ask ourselves, “What are my priorities in this life?” Or, “what is my pearl of great price?” Even more pointedly, we need to ask ourselves if getting to Heaven is our highest priority.
  • Generally speaking, the answers to these questions can be found by looking at our bank statements and calendars, for they tell us how we spend our time and money.
  • But rather than approach these important questions out of a servile fear of hell, I think it’s good for us simply to look at God and all the many blessings He bestows upon us, and then set about ordering our lives.
  • My dear brothers and sisters, do you understand how much our Lord loves you? Do you realize the great gift of grace it is to be not only alive and well, but to be Catholic?
  • Are you not amazed that in His goodness, God is willing to pardon even the worst and most wicked of sins if only we repent of it, so great is His desire to save us?
  • It’s astounding really – and the only proper response is to be grateful and to live our lives in gratitude to God for His many gifts.
  • To be sure, our lives will be much more joyful if we order them out of gratitude, rather than allowing them to be ruled by fear. And so we must constantly show our gratitude to God for His blessings, His grace, and His mercy toward us.
  • While in our gratitude we’ll never be able to repay God for all that He gives us, we still have to try. We must try to be generous to God just as He is generous to us. Treating God as He deserves to be treated should be our highest priority in life.
  • Generosity can take many forms. We can be generous with our money and material resources, with our time, with our talents and abilities. We can even be generous with things like our fertility.
  • What’s important is that we realize that everything we have – whether it is our money, our property, our talents, or any of our blessings – are gifts from the Almighty. And so when we give of these things, we are simply passing on what has been given to us!
  • Of course we should do our best to be generous by tithing on our income and sharing our material goods with others.
  • We should also be generous stewards of our time by praying daily and looking for opportunities to use our God-given talents to serve others.
  • But most importantly, let us be generous with our hearts by truly loving God. Let us be quick to obey Him with joy, trusting that doing His will is the very best thing that can ever happen to us.
  • As we go about seeking to be generous to Him by being generous to others, let us do so courageously, placing all our faith in the simple fact that we can never outdo God in generosity, and that He will always repay us for our service to others.
  • My brothers and sisters, our readings call us today to really examine our lives and our priorities. They call us to bear in our minds the importance of salvation, and thus they call us to make God and the practice of our faith our highest priority.
  • Like St. John Vianney and all the saints, may we love God above all else and truly make Him our highest priority. Let us serve Him generously in this life, so that we may be assured of enjoying His mercy for all eternity.

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
To enable the audio, lease go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

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