What Real Giving Looks Like

November 7, 2021

The Gospel invites us to give from our livelihood.  It can’t be about the number of zeroes on the check or on the price tag.  It is not about comparing amounts.  It is about a sharing that comes from our very selves.  I love the month of November when we come together and reflect on our blessings.  We celebrate Thanksgiving and we usually pay attention to the needs of others.  Through the efforts of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, the Knights of Columbus, Hesed House, and the Kendall County Community Food Pantry, the needs of others are brought into focus for us.  It is so good for us to do that.

Livelihood is a word that raises to the surface of today’s Gospel.  When I think of giving from a place of sacrifice, from my livelihood, I think about what is most precious to me, my time.  How do we give the gift of time to another?  How do we find it within us to shut off the electronics and be attentive? How do we make the extra effort to connect when there never seems to be enough time?  We can all find ways. For some, to go enjoy a meal or a conversation without checking the latest text or email can be difficult.  How often do we hear our dining companions say, “Sorry! I have to take this call.”

A few weeks ago I was golfing with my niece’s husband.  We were talking about the upcoming Christmas season and how great it will be to have my sister, who is the grandmother of his children in town.  We spoke of the blur that Christmas can be and then he said something that challenged me.  He mentioned he was trying to spread the message to all of the family that his kids do not need any more stuff.  He explained what they really need are experiences and that it is better to give them the gift of creating a moment than something that will become outdated or thrown away. Then he put the challenge to me.  While it is easy for me to send a check, or buy a book, how special would it be to take some time to actually cook with my little grandnieces?  Or, if I do decide to give them a book, what if I actually took the time to read it to them?

As we look at blessings, may we look to giving of ourselves, from our livelihood.  The most precious gift is giving the gift of time, first and foremost to God, and then to the ones who surround us in life.

Father John Ouper