A Faith In Common
Thoughts on the First Readings -Joe Frankenfield
17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 Kings 3:5, 7-12

One of my childhood memories is my brothers and sister and I saving up money to get my dad a very special surprise birthday gift. It was so special that even we couldn’t know the secret until we made the purchase. The day to buy the gift arrived and my mom took us all to the jewelers where we picked out a shiny gold Bulova watch. As you’d imagine, the money we kids had saved didn’t cover the cost. To make up the difference my mother gave the jeweler a treasured ring that had been her grandmother’s.

There are moments when a child learns lasting lessons about love. I knew that rings carried special meaning. We weren’t to play with them. My mother had a habit of taking her rings off as she did housework. If we found them, the rule was “tell but don’t touch.” I watched her hesitate as she handed her diamond to the jeweler. On the way home she told us several times how proud of us she was that we had saved all that money to buy dad’s present. On his birthday she never mentioned her role in the present as we excitedly explained all we had done to make sure he had a good watch to wear to work.

The opportunity for generosity can elicit an amazing practicality in us. We rarely question the goodness of helping those in need. Yet we’re likely to temper our response to others’ needs with a sharp eye for the risk we’re taking: irremediable losses we might suffer, harmful precedents we might establish or untoward advantage that someone might take of our largesse.

We do face danger when we love to the point of risk. Allowing ourselves to love freely is an act of faith – in others, in ourselves and in our Creator. Someone has to teach us to love past our comfort level. Someone has to support us. Maybe it’s a parent, maybe it’s a spouse or close friend, maybe it’s the person who prays next to us on Sundays – but it has to be someone. We never live the Way of Jesus alone.