Phil 2:1-11 or 2:1-5
I was listening to tapes on compassion and generosity a few weeks ago. The speaker said that her father always had money in his pocket for street people who might request some assistance. She went on to say that she thought most of the street people would rather people look them in the face and recognize their humanity than just put money in their hand. I have thought a lot about this because I have mixed feelings when I am asked either directly or through a sign for money because someone is hungry.
I have a strong history of giving and not giving money. These street angels conjure up within an appreciation for all that I have, a sympathy and/or empathy for what they may or not have, and sometimes a frustration that their work includes begging from me. Even as I write this I am reminded of the Buddhist monks in Japan who carry a begging bowl to get some of their needs met. They too open their hands to receiving from others what they need today. When I would see them doing this, I would be respectful of their faith that their needs would be met through others generosity.
I have this same respect for our Poor Clare friends, for whom I write my weekly reflections. I am taken back by their lived trust that “our God is a millionaire,” and that the “People of God” are vehicles of that generosity. So as I reflect on the readings for Sunday the 28th of September, I am stirred up by this section of the second reading from Paul to the Philippians:
Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory;
rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves,
each looking out not for his own interests,
but also for those of others.
Have in you the same attitude
that is also in Christ Jesus.
This reading invites me to regard those that I encounter on the corners of our exit ramps or walking with the same attitude that I hold toward the Buddhist monks or the Poor Clare sisters. Even more challenging I need to hold the same attitude which Christ Jesus has toward the street people.
While I can write this with a certain amount of ease, I must admit that my gut feels shakie as I try to imagine what this may mean in my next encounter. Dare I acknowledge their presence whether I give money or not. Sometimes when I give money I look up just to see if they appear grateful… This readings calls me beyond this as well.
This is powerful and scary stuff. This reading could change my life if I dare to accept the call and challenge inherent in the words! Stop. “Fear not, for I will send my Spirit, and you will be able to do even greater things than I.”
May your Spirit fill me as I seek to open my eyes to your presence on the sideways and byways by all who ask me to share in the gift of your abundance.