Mass Reading & Meditation for May 28, 2013
Meditation: Sirach 35:1-12
8th Week in Ordinary Time
“When he gives alms he presents his sacrifice of praise.” (Sirach 35:2)
We easily recognize that acts like attending Mass and singing worshipful songs in our times of prayer are ways of offering praise to God. But Sirach tells us that even something like donating to our parish or giving money to a friend in need is a “sacrifice of praise” (Sirach 35:2). So, too, are good deeds like cutting the grass for a sick neighbor or helping out in a crisis-pregnancy center. In fact, every “freewill gift” you can think of pays “homage” to the Lord (35:7)!
Today’s reading from Sirach echoes the teachings of so many of the Old Testament prophets. People like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, and Hosea frequently exhorted Israel to obey God’s call to justice and compassion. They also called the people to refrain from the false worship of injustice and greed. Taking up this call, Sirach gives us yet another insight: even the mere act of avoiding injustice “is an atonement” for sin (Sirach 35:3).
During much of the Old Testament period, coins and paper money were not in wide circulation. So when a person wanted to help a neighbor in need, it usually took the form of food, clothing, or another practical expression of generosity. By New Testament times, as currency became more common, money became a common form of charity. Yet in its broadest sense, almsgiving was, and still is, understood to include deeds like feeding the hungry, welcoming the stranger, and clothing the naked (Matthew 25:34-40).
This is good news! You may not have a lot of money, but you can still praise the Lord and care for the needy in so many material and practical ways. And even if you are limited by poor health or your tight finances, you really aren’t limited. Elisabeth Leseur, a devout Frenchwoman who died in 1914, was also hampered by sickness. Still, she determined to make the gift of herself “as a cheerful person” to everyone she met. She made it her goal to try to show “lightheartedness, kindness, friendliness, joy” to everyone around her.
So remember, in whatever form we give alms, it is a sacrifice of praise. Remember, too, that God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7)!
“Lord, widen my heart. Show me new ways that I can be praise you and bless the people around me.”
Psalm 50:5-8, 14, 23; Mark 10:28-31