"GIVING IT ALL"
True religion is relating rightly to God and to one's neighbor with love, honor and respect. True reverence for our heavenly Father frees the heart to give it all to both.
St. Ephrem the Deacon, in his ministry was a friend of the poor among whom he worked humbly and with gentleness, seeking only the honor of God. The church honors him this month. The following text from his testament is a tribute to his holiness. May it be our tribute as well?
"Lay me not with sweet spices,
For this honor avails me not,
Nor yet use incense and perfumes,
For the honor befits me not.
Burn ye the incense in the holy place;
As for me, escort me only with your prayers,
Give me your incense to God,
And over me send up hymns.
Instead of perfumes and spices.
Be mindful of me in your intercessions."
Jesus gave direction to the disciples about the wrong kind of religion. He warns against three things: the desire for prominence rather than selfless service; the desire for deference and recognition rather than seeking to promote the good of others through humble service and love; and finally, attempting to use one's position for self-gain and self-advancement. True religion is relating rightly to God and to one's neighbor with love, honor and respect. True reverence for our heavenly Father frees the heart to give it all to both.
In "giving it all" with love, we heard about Jesus praising a poor widow who gave the smallest of coins in contrast with the rich who gave a greater sum. How can someone in poverty give more than someone who has ample means? Jesus' answer is very simple: love is more precious than gold! Jesus taught that real giving must come from our hearts. A gift that is given with a grudge or for display loses its value. But a gift given out of love, with a spirit of generosity and sacrifice, is invaluable.
We are indeed called to bear witness to God's Good News every day of our lives, May we know the joy and freedom of "giving it all" to our God and to those around us with gratitude and love!