February 2001

Has it ever happened to you to receive a gift from a friend and to feel the need to repay the kindness? And you do it not so much to pay a debt, but only of a truly grateful love? Yes, of course.
If this is so for you, you can just imagine how it is for God, God who is Love. He always reciprocates every gift that we give to our neighbor in his name. Authentic Christians have this experience very often. And it's a surprise each time. One never gets used to God's creativity. I could give you a thousand, then thousand examples. I could write a book on this, and you would see the truth of that image: “a full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap,” which describes the abundance with which God reciprocates, his magnanimity.
This episode is from the early days of the Movement: night had already fallen over Rome. In a basement apartment the small group of young women who wanted to live the Gospel were saying good-night. Just then the door-bell rang. Who could it be at this hour? The man at the door was panic-stricken and desperate: the next day he and his family would be evicted from his house because he hadn't paid the rent. The young women looked at one another and in full agreement they opened the little drawer where they had put together what was left of their salaries. They gave everything to that man without second thoughts. That night they went to bed happy. Someone else would have looked after them.
But it wasn't daybreak yet when the telephone rang. “I'll be right there; I'm taking a cab,” said the voice of the same man.
Surprised by his choice of transportation, the young women waited for him to arrive. When they saw his face they understood that something had changed. “Last night, as soon as I got home, I found a sum of money which I have unexpectedly inherited. My heart told me to give half of it to you.” The sum was exactly twice as much as they had generously given.

«Give, and gifts will be given to you: a good measure, packed together, shaken down and overflowing, will be poured into your lap.»

Have you ever had a similar experience? If you have not, remember that the gift must be given without any personal interest, without any hope of receiving something in return and to anyone who asks.
Try it. And do it not in order to see the results, but out of love for God.
You will tell me: but I don't have anything to give.
It's not true. If we want, we have real treasures to give: our free time, our heart, our smile, our advice, our knowledge, our peace, our words, to convince those who have to give to those who do not have….
Again, you will tell me: but I don't have anyone to give to. Look around you: what about that sick man in the hospital, that widow who is always alone, that friend who is so discouraged because he didn't do well in school, that person terribly concerned about being out of work, your little brother who needs help, that friend in prison, that new person on the job with her insecurity: Christ is waiting for you in them.
Begin to act in a new way, as a Christian. The whole Gospel points towards this lifestyle which is one of great openness. Give up placing your security in earthly possessions and rely on God. In this way you will express your faith in him, a faith which is going to be confirmed before long by the gift that you will receive in return.
Logically, God doesn't act in this way in order to make you rich or to make us rich. He does it so that others, many others, in seeing the small miracles brought about by our giving, will want to do the same.
He does this because the more we have, the more we can give. As true administrators of his goods – we can share everything with those around us, so that it can be said as it was of the early community of Jerusalem: “… nor was there anyone needy among them” (Acts 4:34). Don't you think that in doing so you work at giving an authentic soul to the revolution that our society and the world is calling for?
“Give, and gifts will be given to you.” Undoubtedly, Jesus meant, first of all, the reward we will have in heaven, but what happens on this earth is already prelude and guarantee of what we will have in heaven.

Chiara Lubich

 

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