cryptic homily notes for 2 corinthians 8

during the height of the pandemic, there were miles long lines of cars to get food. example: rainier beach community center. this crisis has shown us many examples of the people responding to our brothers and sisters who lost jobs and/or had a drastic loss of income. in the richest country in the world, poverty and hunger exist– the pandemic spotlighted these needs– and people responded generously. this is just one lesson the Spirit teaches us through this crisis. echoes of matthew 25, “when i was hungry, you gave me food”– seeing Christ in others and responding with generosity out of love for jesus.

when i was a pastor (and i am happy that i have now moved into a different phase of ministerial life!), we had to appeal (often?) for money. personally, i find it awkward to ask others for money— even for good reason. my rationale would be, “people will see the good for the parish themselves and donate. they don’t need to hear a money talk.”

but after a time, i realized that most people do not make the full connections of how donations are used. it does take some explaining. an example of this are “annual diocesan appeals.” certain ministries are better coordinated with a collective effort– such as jail-prison outreach and homeless care. these are ministries that a single parish cannot do well on its own.

without a good understanding of how our donations are used, it is easier not to give. it can be an excuse to be selfish.

the framework is the spirituality of stewardship: God has given me gifts of time, treasure and talent. my call to love is to share these gifts that God has given me

a major theme from paul’s second letter to the corinthians is sharing one’s gifts for others’ benefit or need. this is the context for today’s scripture:

Brothers and sisters:
As you excel in every respect, in faith, discourse,
knowledge, all earnestness, and in the love we have for you,
may you excel in this gracious act also.
For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that though he was rich, for your sake he became poor, 
so that by his poverty you might become rich.
Not that others should have relief while you are burdened,
but that as a matter of equality
your abundance at the present time should supply their needs,
so that their abundance may also supply your needs,
that there may be equality.
As it is written:

    Whoever had much did not have more,
        and whoever had little did not have less.
2 Cor 8:7, 9, 13-15

paul’s teaching: for the followers of jesus to excel, we must share what we have with those in need.

jesus shared himself as an example. jesus shared his time, treasure and talent. these sharings were acts of love. the ultimate gift: the gift of one’s very life. jesus on the cross

a footnote: “a reference to Jesus’ preexistence with God (his “wealth”) and to his incarnation and death (his “poverty”), and they point to the similarity between this verse and Phil 2:68.” another footnote: “Others interpret the wealth and poverty as succeeding phases of Jesus’ earthly existence, e.g., his sense of intimacy with God and then the desolation and the feeling of abandonment by God in his death (cf. Mk 15:34).

paul references israel’s measuring manna in the desert (exodus 16: 18) “But when they measured it out by the omer, the one who had gathered a large amount did not have too much, and the one who had gathered a small amount did not have too little. They gathered as much as each needed to eat.”

one of the good things that come from sharing is that others’ needs are met. these are the acts of love that the scripture highlights for us today. love one another as jesus has loved us.

eucharist spiritually feeds us so that we may feed others. we can only authentically share what God has given us with hearts of thanksgiving. this is the gift of the eucharist today and always.

how are our eyes ope to Christ among us today? who is the Spirit inviting you to see differently today? what has the Spirit implanted in your heart to share?

let us pray:

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen

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