The Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan joins the missionary families of Christ celebrating their 39th anniversary. We read the documents of the Church and we are always told that the Church is always missionary. The Church, by her very nature, is missionary. What does it mean to be a missionary Church? To be a missionary Church means to be a sending Church. A sending Church means a Church that is not satisfied looking at itself. A sending Church means a Church that always looks for others because the Church is here to be the life of the world. The Church is missionary because the Church is a sending Church. The Church is a sending Church because the Church is a giving Church. And the Church is a giving Church because the Church is a loving Church. Loving Church. And the proof of love is in giving. The proof of love is in giving. Saying I love you but not giving anything is hypocrisy because the proof of loving is in giving. We give flowers, we give chocolates, we give food, we give properties, we also give time. We can give many things but the person who does not give cannot call himself a loving person. The Church that does not give cannot call itself a missionary Church.
So giving. Giving is the theme of the Word of God for us today. How do we give? In the First Reading and in the Gospel, we are told to give generously. Give generously. To give generously means it is easy. To give generously means you do not have second thoughts. To give generously means it is my nature to give, and if I am no longer able to give, I will not be true to myself. To give generously. To give generously means to give abundantly. What is the test of generosity? The test of generosity is not how much you give; the test of generosity is how much you keep. If you give one million pesos but you have one billion pesos in your pocket, is that generosity? I can give one peso but if I only have 50 centavos left, is that being stingy? My dear brothers and sisters, the measure of generosity is not in how much we give away. The measure of generosity is in how much we keep. And when we are no longer able to keep anything for ourselves, then we have become truly generous.
The second description for giving is in the Gospel. Give gallantly. The Tagalog word “galante” is not right because “galante” might mean spending carelessly. Being “galante” may mean spending extravagantly without thinking. But to give gallantly is to give courageously. To give courageously is to give bravely. To give bravely is to believe “I will never be lacking. I will not lack anything because God, the source of all blessings, is not stingy.” The person afraid to give will not be truly happy. We all know, my brothers and sisters, that a thief is a brother of a liar.
A stingy person or a miser is a brother of a coward because a miser is afraid of running out of things. Misers, in fact, are always afraid of losing things. So they grab, save, grab some more. But that is not the secret of life because generosity, bravely giving, courageously giving is the key to health. In other words, if we would all stop giving, we would all get sick in the body and even more sick in the soul. Giving maintains our health, and people who do not give will eventually become sick and will eventually die early because they have lost the meaning of living.
The first “G” is generous. The second “G” is gallant – brave, strong willed, not afraid to give because he knows he will not run out of things. The third “G” is give gratefully. I will repeat, give gratefully. Based on Good Manners and Right Conduct, if you give, the recipient will say thank you. Based on Good Manners and Right Conduct, if you receive something, you will say thank you. Based on Good Manners and Right Conduct, the beggar says thank you for the alms. Based on Good Manners and Right Conduct, the donee thanks the donor. Based on Good Manners and Right Conduct, the giver of the gift will be thanked by the receiver of the gift.
That is our human nature but that is not the nature of the Gospel of Generosity because the Gospel of Generosity teaches us that after giving, the giver says thank you because you have given me a chance to love the Lord. You have given me a chance to give to the Lord, you have given me a chance to serve the Lord. When we give to the needy, after giving, please tell the needy, “Bro/Sis, thank you because through you I gave the Lord and you gave me the opportunity to love the Lord.” Does this mean that the recipient no longer says thank you? No, the giver says thank you and the recipient says thank you as well. The giver gives thanks, the recipient also gives thanks because in living a life of thanksgiving, we will be living happily and joyfully because thanksgiving opens the door to happiness.
On this day, three “Gs” for us. Generosity, willingly. Gallantly, brave. Brave because you don’t wait for anything in return, brave because you are not afraid to run out of things. And lastly, gratitude. Give and give with gratitude because the act of giving is an opportunity to love the Lord. Not all of us can go to Africa, or Asia, or China or in other parts of the world to be a missionary. But in every act of giving, we live for others. And the act of giving, giving life for others is giving life as a Catholic missionary.
Today we remember our vocation to give. At the end of the pandemic, as you saw on television, and you saw on social media the so-called “Piston 6.” They are jeepney drivers who were apprehended for begging and asking for help from others because their families are hungry. They were imprisoned because of the ban on assembly, they were imprisoned because they did not wear face masks, they were imprisoned because they gathered together. While they were in prison, many fellow Filipinos went to them to bring food. Food was brought to them because they themselves said they have not eaten for three days and were just spending the time talking to each other and drinking water to stave off hunger. When they were brought food, each driver wrote on a small piece of paper the name and address of their families and they told the donors of food, “Not for me. Please bring it to my family. I can still endure. Not for me. Not for us. This is the address. If it is not too much to ask, please give it to my family because they are very hungry.” The drivers were also very hungry but they gave willingly, bravely, and happily. They were not the original because on the altar on this day, Jesus happily, willingly, and bravely gave us His body because God loves us.