My mother is getting forgetful. She insists that she is not, but the facts speak for themselves. You can have the same conversation with her four times in one day. She does not remember if she did her morning exercises. At first she was resistant to any help. Now, she welcomes some help. My brother lines up her medications for the week, marks the calendar for doctor’s appointments and calls to make sure she did not forget to have lunch. She lets my sister take care of her utility bills and access her bank accounts. She is changing gracefully; just do not tell her she is forgetful!
At times, each of us is struck by forgetfulness. Paul, in the first reading today, shows us by example how not to forget to let others help us. The Christians at Philippi sent Paul a gift, maybe some money or perhaps a blanket to keep him warm at night. Paul tells them that he has everything he needs because his life is centered on Christ. This is the source of his happiness, joy and strength. At the same time he does appreciate the compassionate gesture of the Philippians. It’s not the value of the gift that Paul most values. Rather it is the investment they are making for themselves, for Paul is confident that God will repay their generosity through the "glorious riches" that come through Jesus Christ.
It might be too easy to say, "No thanks," when someone offers to help us. Perhaps we want to be independent and not rely on others; we don’t want to feel obligated to return a favor; or we don’t really need the help. Paul didn’t need the gift offered by the Philippians. He accepted it, not for himself, but so that God could bless their kindness. Don’t forget to give others an opportunity to be blessed when they ask if we need help. Their act of charity brings a smile to God’s face and a blessing to their lives.
Fr. Don Webber, C.P., is Provincial of Holy Cross Province and resides in Chicago.