The measure with which you measure,
will in turn be measured out to you.
It seems to me, that sadly, we live in a society that seems, in many ways, to have forgotten much of this Gospel message. Children participate in what is termed “competitive sports”, but they come to believe there is a trophy or a tiara for everyone for every event. They miss an opportunity to know the thrill of running for the sheer joy of feeling the wind on their faces, a hug from a parent – a loving squeeze without words that conveys, “I am so proud of you!” The pleasure St. Paul writes about to Timothy: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.” I wonder, did he watch or participate in the competitive games in the coliseum he writes about to the Corinthians: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize?”
All-too-quickly today’s young people can lose (and sadly never rediscover) the warm, fuzzy feelings of self-satisfaction that was once a natural reaction to success. You know that gleeful, almost smug smile the first time they stood alone, took their first step… when, for the first time, to the consternation of the adults, they opened a child-proof container, hammered that first nail into mom’s precious table or exhibited their wonderful drawing with indelible pen on the living room wall and exclaimed: “Look what I did!” No one could be prouder of an achievement!
Jesus advises us: Give your cloak AND your tunic – not just your warm coat (that you haven’t worn in eons) but also the shirt off your back. Today Jesus might challenge us – Why is your closet stuffed with clothing you haven’t worn since your weight changed or we moved across the street? It is quite unlikely you’ll ever wear them again. But that Daystar customer, or that lady from the Sunrise shelter, or the Saint Leo University student who is looking for a business outfit for her first job interview? Your blouse would fit her perfectly and give her a boost of confidence.
Jesus reminds us, when we invite company for a meal not to wait for a return dinner date. Don’t ask: whose turn is it to pick up the tab this time? He says to lend freely without expectation of repayment. And when you respond generously to the impulse to do good – what caused that desire arise? Be slow to assume it is due to anything you have done. Remember Jesus says, “Even sinners lend to their own kind.” Give, and gifts will be given to you – in good measure, tamped down, packed tight, so your vessel can hold every tiny possible grain of blessing – full to overflowing – spilling over into your life and influencing those around you.
So how will you measure out your kindness – by the teaspoon, tablespoon or a cupful? By the minute, by the hour it might take you? We have 24 hours in a day; that’s 168 hours a week. It’s true they’re not all waking hours. All toll we have time in excess of 8000 hours a year! How flexible will you be with these God-given hours? Will you respond to an imposition on your time? Now? Tomorrow? Next week? Or with a prayer that the request will be forgotten or someone else will be enlisted to make a donation of her time? Or will you give with open hands and heart – freely, without measure?
Jesus promises us: “The measure with which you measure, it will in turn be measured out to you.” And, in turn we will reap the kind of joy recognized by the child who is quoted in the current issue of Reader’s Digest. She received birthday money from her grandmother to “buy something nice for yourself.” “I did,” she said when questioned about why she put her gift money in the church collection basket. “I did” she said, what Grandma said: “I brought happiness!”
~ Reflection by Sister Roberta Bailey, OSB, Prioress