In a farewell speech at the end of his September 2015 trip to the United States, Pope Francis told the people gathered at the Philadelphia International Airport, “Your care for me and your generous welcome are a sign of your love for Jesus and your faithfulness to him.”
That sounds like something Elisha the prophet would have said to the woman we meet in today’s first reading. She and her husband extended to Elisha an open invitation to come and stay with them whenever he was in town. Generous giving without expecting a reward seemed to be this family’s motto. And yet, even if they didn’t expect it, this elderly couple did receive a reward. Grateful for their hospitality, Elisha prayed, and God gave them a child.
Now, Scripture is clear that we are saved by Jesus alone, not by our actions. But it’s also clear that God rejoices when we give our time, our treasure, and our talents in service to his people. Our acts of generosity move his heart, and he responds by pouring out his grace. Does this mean that we should try to be generous so that God will reward us? Not exactly. Our generosity is a response, a reflection of the good he has done for us. We give generously so that we can show the world what God’s generosity looks like. We go out of our way for people because we want to bring his love to them. This is why Pope Francis keeps urging us to give, to reach out, and to show God’s love.
So sit down today, and try to come up with some ways you can give more to the poor, serve more in your parish or community, or be a more loving witness to the people around you. Know that the Lord rejoices in whatever you do for him.