“Holy Week” Monday - Year C
Generosity of others brings out the worst in us. It affronts our myth of never-ending progress for us in a zero-sum world. When someone else is generous, we can’t help but wonder what that will cost us. We could have been the recipient of that generous gift and we would certainly value it more highly that the ne’er-do-well who received it. We would have been able to turn a pound of nard into an even better return than a pound of heroin. In our imagination we can see all the good we would do with that resource. Of course there would have to be just a little taken out for administrative costs. Then, certainly, there will be a consideration given for management of this fund,. A laborer is due their due, so a little more may have to come out. Obviously there are a few palms to grease to efficiently and effectively oversee the movement of these monies to the poor souls so in need of a hand-out. Yes, someone would certainly receive something if only we had the nard.
Here in this week called “Holy” we may need to question the capitalist model of charity. It does seem we have poor folk all around us. It is hard to make a maximal profit with them having so many needs. Surely we should be able to market Jesus Nard or Lazarus Wrappings. with some of the proceeds going to the poor. We wouldn’t expect to do worse than the American Tract Society’s administrative expenses of 68% of their take as reported by Charity Navigators. Well, we might, but we would not expect to.
As a first reflection on life this week we see that we don’t see clearly. The way we measure importance and identify key values gets pretty messed up pretty quickly. Generous women have to go. People miraculously alive have to go. This is not to mention all the unmentionable folks we already dismiss as a matter of course by rendering them invisible. When honor comes up against profit, honor loses. When new life comes up against institutional survival, new life loses.
What is the half-life of generosity in your life? What is the distance between a reason to be generous and generosity itself?