Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
“Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.”
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! As we continue on this Lenten journey, we are asked to reflect on our behavior today. Am I a person who is merciful? Judgmental? Condemning? Forgiving? Generous?
What you give is what you get in return. This is an old motto, but it is so true in many different aspects of life. I have found this to be true in my life, especially with the things of God. The more I share God’s love and mercy, the more I experience His love and mercy in my own life. When I am selfish, I am usually left with an empty feeling.
I love to exercise daily. When I exert energy in my workouts, amazingly I have more energy throughout the whole day. When I am lazy, I feel lethargic. The same is true with love. When I generously give love away and serve others, I experience a joy and satisfaction that no one can take away from me.
As a priest, the Lord has challenged me to be generous with my time, energy and love. Our priests are very busy these days because we are trying to cover the needs of thousands of people in our parishes and ministries. So there is a need to take care of ourselves with a day off, an annual retreat and vacation time. It seems that we fall into one of two categories – either we work too hard or we don’t work hard enough. I think the virtue is in the middle – work hard and rest well.
Just like parents, we priests are called to lay down our lives for our family, the people of God. We are not bachelors. Our time is not our own. We are called to generously serve our people and sacrifice our own desires to serve those around us. The Lord has shown me that when I am generous, He floods me with grace that leads me beyond my own human capabilities. I may be physically tired at the end of the day, but the heart soars with joy. I do make sure that I take time each day for prayer, each week for a day off, each year for a retreat, and some vacation. But my life should not be about me – it is about serving the Lord and His people.
My friends, the measure that we measure out will be measured out to us. Let us be generous with the gifts God has given us – both the spiritual gifts (mercy and forgiveness) and the material gifts. Nothing is ours to own, but all is a gift from above. Give it away and watch what the Lord does with it…
Have a great day!