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Promoting generosity of character

By Leela Ramdeen, Chair, CCSJ & AMMR

“Generosity is the predisposition to love open-handedly. Our hands matter, both literally and symbolically. In the open hand, our palms are up, and our fingers extended. A closed hand is usually a clenched fist, tightly grasping what it wants to keep or tensely  preparing for battle. To be generous requires that we open our hands” (Gregory Spencer).

Reflecting on today’s gospel, Mark 12:38–44, gives us an opportunity to prepare to observe World Day of the Poor next Sunday, November 14.

As one writer says, the gospel reading today does not just refer to money. “It is as much about being generous with our time, initiatives, energy, kindness, talents, and abilities to serve others. It is generosity of heart in every sense that is being addressed here… There is a difference between simply ‘giving alms’ and fully sharing ourselves” (Independent Catholic News).

In 1 Corinthians 4:7–8, we are reminded: “What do you have that was not given to you?”. Let us never forget that everything we have is GIFT from God. Indeed, God’s greatest gift to us is sending His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins, to redeem us. The challenge we face is not to horde His gifts, but to develop generosity of spirit and share them with others.

Recently, two persons were welcomed to join CCSJ’s Management Committee. What struck me was the presentation they made as to the reason why they wanted to volunteer and join our team.

In a world in which individualism and selfishness is rampant, we are blessed in our Church/in T&T that there are so many individuals who are willing to serve selflessly.

The Institute for Faith and Learning, Baylor University, tells us that “Generosity names not merely something we do, but an admirable quality of character, something we are. Undergirding the character of truly generous people is a special awareness of themselves, others, and God’s gracious provision for the world, and this understanding inspires genuinely generous activity.”

In one of his 2018 homilies, Pope Francis said that generosity makes us magnanimous. He invited Christians to be generous towards the poor, saying a charitable attitude opens the heart and helps us to be kinder. He said the rich in the parable of the widow’s mite “are not evil” but “are good people who go to the Temple and make their offering.”

“Widows, orphans, migrants, and foreigners were the poorest people in Israel,” he said. The widow “had offered her whole livelihood” because she trusted in the Lord. “She gives everything…because the Lord is greater than all else. The message of this Gospel passage is an invitation to generosity…

“Generosity belongs to everyday life; it’s something we should think about: ‘How can I be more generous, with the poor, the needy… How can I help more?’….Consider the little things. For example, look through your room or your wardrobe. How many pairs of shoes do I have?… Maybe too many… I knew a monsignor who had 40… But if you have many pairs of shoes, give away half. How many clothes do I not use or use only once a year?… nowadays there is another disease, which works against generosity: The disease of consumerism… Let us ask the Lord for the grace of being generous, so that our hearts may be opened, and we may become kinder” (Vatican News).

And as we are attentive to the cry of the poor and reflect on what we can offer them, let us not forget that the poor have much to offer us.

“The poor, always and everywhere, evangelize us, because they enable us to discover in new ways the true face of the Father.” And if we are to see Christ in the face of the poor, let us do as the Holy Father has urged us to do and not wait for the poor to knock on our doors but rather urgently reach them in their homes, hospitals, on the streets etc.

As Pope Francis says, “We cannot remain silent about the scandal of poverty in its various forms.”

When the Lord looks at our hearts will He find generosity therein?


“Created in the image and likeness of the one God and equally endowed with rational souls, all persons have the same nature and the same origin. Redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ, all are called to participate in the same divine beatitude: all therefore enjoy an equal dignity.”

–Catechism of the Catholic Church (1934)

CCSJ Social Justice Education Committee