2 Corinthians chapter 8, verses 7 -15
This reading from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians speaks of the apostle fulfilling an obligation which most of us find somewhat onerous. He is trying to raise money in order to support the poorer communities of the church. Paul uses just about every trick of the trade to get the Corinthians to open their purses. He flatters them...he praises their past generosity and how it compares favourably to that of other communities and he reminds them of the sacrifices made by Jesus on their behalf. But he also cautions them about going overboard and in their charitable zeal...creating problems for their own families...what he calls for is balanced generosity with money, time and effort.
At the core of Paul’s rationale for charitable giving, whether it be giving of one’s money or of one’s self, is the conviction that Christianity is not a solitary migration of one’s soul to God …but rather that Christianity is primarily communal in nature.
The true Christian must therefore be prepared to be supportive of and dependent upon his fellow Christians. Jesus’ ministry demonstrated nothing if not the fact that we are to help and to support each other. In a highly competitive society such as that engendered by our economic system, this fundamental Christian ethic is frequently overlooked.
It is up to each of us to decide which forces shape our attitudes toward each other. Look at the way we converge on that one available space in a mall parking lot …ready to kill rather than give way! Or the way we participate in putting local merchants out of business because the new multi-national mega-store has the same item for less. Surely you have noticed that some of us are primarily motivated by fear and insecurity and others by greed and ambition ...still others by pride and vanity.
We all know certain people who are clearly motivated by gospel values. They often make us feel a little uncomfortable don’t they? Secretly we admire them but we are quick to join the chorus that dismisses them as weak, holier than thou, unrealistic or even phoney. They are, in fact, a precious minority. For most of us it is a constant struggle …or it should be!