SABBATH REFLECTION – 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Matthew 5:38-48
I have just started reading quite a beautiful book called: ‘THE BOOK OF JOY – Lasting Happiness in a Changing World’ and am only about fifty pages into it. It is about a meeting for a week between the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. It is a ‘joy’ to read and gives wonderful insights into these two wise men from very different traditions. I find my mind and Heart being stretched, I find myself laughing at their playfulness, cheekiness and childlike joy with each other, and I find myself pondering their collective wisdom…… and so much more.
As I read a few more pages this morning the ‘narrator of the book: Douglass Abrams, quoted Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist who: ‘had drawn together the neuroimaging research into a unified theory of the happy brain……
There are four independent brain circuits that influence our lasting well-being, Davidson explained; The first is “our ability to maintain positive states.”…. The second circuit is responsible for “our ability to recover from negative states.”…..The third circuit, also independent but essential to the others, is “our ability to focus and avoid mind-wandering.” This of course was the circuit that so much of meditation exists to develop…. The fourth and final circuit is “our ability to be generous.” ‘ Page 56
It is this ‘ability to be generous’ (and the others too) that touched something deep within me. Pondering today’s Gospel and this ‘circuit of generosity’, it seemed to be saying this is what today’s Gospel is all about – GENEROSITY. Be ‘generous’ to the point that you do not hold revenge or retaliation as your response to what is not of Love towards you or towards others. Be ‘generous’ when you are persecuted. Be ‘generous’ in what you give to others in all forms of giving – ‘go that extra mile’ whether you judge they ‘deserve’ it or not. Be ‘generous’ in your Loving even when it is towards your ‘enemy’. Be ‘generous’ just as this Spirit of Love is ‘generous’ to EVERYONE – believer and unbeliever alike. Be ‘generous’ to those who are different to you. BE GENEROUS………………
The question then is: Are we a ‘generous’ people or are we stingy/mean people? Perhaps we must first learn to be ‘generous’ with ourselves: to learn to truly Love ourselves with a compassionate and forgiving Love that fosters Life within us. I suspect that until we learn to Love ourselves and experience the depthlessness of this Love, not in an ego centred Love, but in a relationship that brings everything within us and outside of us TOGETHER into a Universal Love that embraces not only me but the whole of Creation, then until we KNOW something of this Love then we will not come to know this ‘generosity’ at this deeper and much more profound level. This ‘generosity’ when we RE-discover it and learn to live it, will teach us the Reality of ‘joy’.
When this ‘generosity’ unfolds within us, it will become our natural way of Being within the whole of Creation. Our ‘generosity’ will extend to our neighbour, our Earth, and our whole Cosmos. It is truly a ‘cosmic generosity’ built into the whole of Creation. And every one of us not only abide within this Realm of ‘generosity’ but it also abides within EVERYONE OF US AND WITHIN EVERYTHING. When consciously practiced and we become more consciously aware of ‘generosity’, we will discover our ‘Hearts captivated’ by it.
In the book ‘An Astonishing Secret’ by Daniel O’Leary (whom I often quote lately!) he gives us this beautiful prayer by Teilhard de Chardin: ‘I love you for the extensions to your body and soul in the farthest corners of Creation through grace, through life, through matter. Jesus, you who are as gentle as the human heart, as fiery as the forces of nature, as intimate as life itself, you in whom I can melt away and with whom I must have mastery and freedom; I love you as the world, as this world which has captivated my heart; and it is you, I now realise, that people, even those who do not believe, sense and see through the magic immensities of the cosmos.’
When we truly know and experience such a depth of Love, and when we sense our ‘Hearts Captivated’ as we see in Teilhard, how can we be anything but ‘generous’?