A Mother’s Wisdom and a Mother’s Care
The Church is a good Mother, a spiritual mother. And as such, she watches over our spiritual health. One way she does this is by creating family rules – rules that everyone in the family of the Catholic Church needs to follow in order to stay spiritually healthy. Of course, the most basic rules that the Church teaches us are those given to us directly by God, found in the Bible, the “user’s manual,” if you will, for human happiness. These are the Ten Commandments – the most basic requirements for growth in spiritual maturity, increase in wisdom, and the experience of a fulfilling, meaningful life. The Church also constantly reminds us of the example and teachings of Jesus Christ, which reveal the deeper purpose and meaning behind the Ten Commandments, and the best way to follow them.
- Being a good Mother, the Church also gives us some extra help, some family rules that we can use as a litmus test to see if we are really cultivating our friendship with Jesus, or not. These are called the ‘Five precepts of the Church’.
In today’s First Reading and Gospel passage, our Lord wants to give us the background behind the last precept, No. 5 – the duty of each member of our Catholic family to help provide for the material needs of the Church.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks about this precept. He promises us that even if we only give a small gift to support the mission of His Church, He will never forget it: He says: “And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because he is a disciple – amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward”.
- We don’t always experience that “reward” here on earth, but God has given plenty of visible signs throughout history that the reward He promises us is indeed real.
The experience of the woman of Shunem in today’s First Reading is a good example. She convinced her husband to show special hospitality to God’s prophet, Elisha. She didn’t do it for selfish reasons, or to look good in the eyes of her neighbours. She did it because she saw an opportunity to glorify God and show her love for the Lord by using her own God-given resources to support one of God’s chosen servants. As she explained it to her husband: “I know he is a holy man of God. Since he visits us often, let us arrange a little room…” She wanted to support his holiness, his mission, his work on behalf of God’s Kingdom. And God allowed her to see how grateful and pleased he was with her generosity – he gave her and her husband the gift of a child, to which she gave birth at the very time Elisha had predicted.
We never receive in this life the full reward for our generosity to God, but He does give us glimpses of the reward He is preparing for us, the reward that, as He promised, we shall not lose.
Obeying the fifth precept of the Church is an investment with eternal returns. Let’s be as generous as we can, in what ever way we can, in thanksgiving to the One who gives us everything: This Life and Life eternal.
Fr David Jones OLW