By Fr. Roy Cimagala
CHRIST clearly said this. In that gospel parable where he told his disciples to be always prepared for judgment, (cfr. Lk 12,39-48) Christ clearly admonished his disciples to be ready to face the Lord, able to account for all the things that have been entrusted to them. If they are given much, much will also be expected from them.
The lesson Christ wanted to impart to his disciples, and to us, is that whatever blessing, gift or privilege given to us should never lead us to feel entitled. Rather, we should feel that a greater responsibility is actually given to us, for which we have to do some accounting on Judgment Day.
That gospel parable somehow reminds us that we are just stewards, not owners, of the things of this world. Thus, we have to be responsible and accountable for how we use the things of this world. In this regard, we have to see to it that we be as fruitful and generous in the use of the things of this world, not wasteful and prodigal. We need to distinguish between generosity and prodigality.
We have to learn to distinguish between the two since both can look the same and can involve more or less the same amount of money, time, effort, etc. Generosity is, of course, not prodigality, though it is never sparing of the resources that may be needed to pursue a real good.
Prodigality is simply a matter of wastefulness, oftentimes of the thoughtless and selfish kind, as dramatized in that parable of the prodigal son. (cfr. Lk 15,11-32) It is an irresponsible way of using one’s resources, endowments and blessings that are made to respond simply to one’s whims and caprices.
It’s always good that whatever service we do for others, we should be as generous as possible without spoiling them. And whatever attention we give to ourselves, we should try to be as sparing as possible without, of course, harming us or jeopardizing our health, etc.
Pertinent to this point, Christ said: “Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” (Lk 6,38)
In other words, the more we give, the more we actually will receive. Christ promised as much when he said: “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children of fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” (Mt 19,29)
We have to realize then that any privilege, honor or praise given to us is a call for us to be more generous in our self-giving to such an extent that we would not run away from making the supreme sacrifice of giving our life for God and the others, just like what Christ did. Our attitude should be to sharpen even more our desire to serve and not to be served.
We should never feel entitled. Christ himself was the first one to live by this principle. Being God, he emptied himself to become man and to bear all the sins of men by dying on the cross, all for the purpose of saving mankind. (cfr. Phil 2,7)
He reiterated this point when he lamented about the domineering sense of entitlement of some of the leading Jews of his time while praising the poor widow who put all that she had into the temple treasury. (cfr. Mk 12,38-44)