When I was a youngster, going to a Catholic School in East Los Angeles, there were some scriptural passages that had found a nesting place in my memory, and which often prompted my behavior. It was not only the Franciscan Sisters, who taught us at Resurrection School, who had us learn scriptural verses; but the Victory Noll Sisters, who were our “released time” catechists during the several years that I attended Eastman Street public school, also made sure that we learned some scripture with our catechism.
As we were collecting money for the Holy Childhood, we knew that somewhere in Scripture was the maxim: “God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor 9:7)
In those days of Latin Mass texts, we couldn’t help but remember on a gloomy, rainy day when we couldn’t go out for recess, “Haec dies quam fecit Dominus, exultemur et laetemur in ea.” “This is the day which the Lord has made, let us be glad and rejoice in it.” (Ps 118:24)
This 6th chapter of St. Luke’s Gospel, today’s context for the Gospel, is where we find one of the two synoptic accounts called “The Beatitudes”. It is a very practical chapter, rooted in conflict, encouragement, socio-economic reality, and a future vision.
Today’s verses in the Gospel remind me of those family practices around the sharing of a cake, or the pie, at the table. One child cuts the cake/pie, but is the last one to serve his/her plate. Everyone gets to pick what might be the marginally bigger piece.
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.”
What a good Gospel standard for a Lenten project! All of us give and receive throughout the day. A morning greeting, a piece of toast, a ride to work, a cup of coffee, chatting at the water cooler, the right-of-way in the traffic lane, a smile at the convenience store, a loving “welcome home”, passing the plates at supper, washing the plates after supper, whose TV controller?, night snacks, “good night”.
Will I give in good measure, overflowing abundance? Will I receive in humble gratitude, knowing that all things come from the loving hand of God?
Will my Lenten journey be a real preparation for the greatest gift of God’s love, which is the sacrifice of God’s Son, Jesus, on a cross, so that we might all rise with Jesus in the Easter Alleluia.
Haec dies quam fecit Dominus, exultemur et laetemur in ea.
Fr. Arthur Carrillo, C.P. is the director of the Missions for Holy Cross Province. He lives in Chicago, Illinois.