Generosity not optional for Christians

| September 21, 2016 | 0 Comments

If you were to ask 100 random people on the street what Catholics are known for, what do you think they would say? Of all those people, how many do you think would say “generosity”? Unfortunately, my suspicion is that the number would be very few.

Yet, as we see in the Gospel for Sept. 25, generosity is more than an optional add-on to our faith; it is essential.

The rich man in this passage finds himself in eternal torment for lacking it. He spent his life so focused on himself that he was completely unmindful of Lazarus on his doorstep. Lazarus was in desperate need, and he had the super-abundant means to help him, yet he didn’t bother to give him even the scraps that fell from his table.

This story, from Jesus himself, reminds us that at the end of our lives we will be judged in our generosity toward those in need. As Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew, “What you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me” (Mt 25:45).

Sometimes we can practice this generosity by simply offering our time, a listening ear or a word of encouragement to someone who needs it, but there can be no getting around the fact that Scripture requires of us material generosity as well. St. John makes this point when he says, “If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him?” (1 John 3:17). Our “treasure” is not off limits to God, because he is ultimately the one who entrusted us with it.

With Lazarus lying half-dead on his own doorstep, it was fairly obvious what the rich man ought to have done. However, in our complex society with its multifaceted problems, it isn’t always so simple. How does one live a generous life in the modern day within one’s own situation involving particulars such as family, career, geographic location, etc.? This is a question that takes thought, prayer and wisdom to answer. But perhaps, sometimes the problem is that we don’t want to know the answer.

Jesus promises us, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back” (Lk 6:38).

So at Mass this Sunday, let us ask God for the grace to live generously.

Deacon Sandquist is in formation for the priesthood at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. His teaching parish is
St. Jude of the Lake in Mahtomedi, and his home parish is St. Boniface in St. Bonifacius.

Sunday, Sept. 25

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time


  • Am 6:1a, 4-7
  • 1 Tm 6:11-16
  • Lk 16:19-31


Category: Sunday Scriptures