Generosity of Spirit – Just Do It!

Editor’s Note: And additional Reflection on the Mass readings for the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – Amos 7:12-15; Psalms 85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14; Ephesians 1:3-14 or 1:3-10; Mark 6:7-13. This series usually appears each Wednesday.

Photography © by Andy Coan

Everybody likes free gifts.  Advertisers know that a campaign will have much better results if there are free samples or a free gift with every purchase.  A friend of mine lived by this motto: when it’s free, take two.

But when we receive a favor, we’re wise enough to know there has got to be a catch somewhere.  The giver usually expects something of us in return.

In this Sunday’s second reading, Saint Paul tells us that God is the most generous of all givers.  In fact his generosity is immeasurable and unlimited.  He does not just give us a percentage off the price of our purchase, or a trinket to induce sales.  He does not just forgive a few sins and require that we work off the rest of our tab.  He entirely cancels the debt, wipes the slate clean, and as a bonus gives us supernatural insight into the cosmic plan that makes the whole universe tick, the “mystery” that undergirds history.  He gives us eternal life as a free gift, and as the down-payment on this inheritance, gives us the supernatural power of his own Spirit, dwelling in our hearts.

But of course, there is a catch.  We are filled with gifts so that we in turn can become givers.  We owe love and worship and gratitude to the Giver, of course.  But that’s not what he is most concerned with.  After all, He is God, perfect in himself, and has no needs.  Instead, his preoccupation is with our neighbors who do have needs.  What we’ve received as a gift, he calls us to give as a gift.  We are to “pass it forward.”

That’s why Amos, a simple shepherd and dresser of sycamores, is not just given God’s word, but is called to leave his home in Judah to bring that word to the royal sanctuary in Bethel.  It’s also why fishermen and tax collectors are first called disciples, those who receive and learn the teaching of the master, but are then called “apostles”, meaning those who are “sent out” to spread that teaching.

Funny thing, though.  When prophets and apostles bring God’s gifts to town, not everyone is excited.  The King’s chaplain told Amos to go home.  Jesus warned the apostles that some would not be interested in their message. They were to shake the dust of such towns from their feet and move on.

The scope of these Scriptures, however, is not simply restricted to the job description of professional clergy and foreign missionaries.  It is true that the bishops of the Catholic Church are the official successors of the apostles and ultimately bear responsibility for the Church’s mission to all nations.  Yet their role is not to do it all, but to oversee (bishop means “overseer” in Greek) and direct it all.  The Church teaches that every person who is baptized and confirmed receives directly from Christ a mandate to share in the Lord’s prophetic mission.  Prophet literally means spokesman.  While most of us will never be called to utter oracles that predict the future, we all are called to speak in behalf of God a message that sometimes challenges people and other times brings them comfort.  While most of us are not called to the sacrament of Holy Orders, we are all called to the “lay apostolate.”  And according to the teaching of the Church, we’ve been amply equipped with the spiritual gifts necessary to carry out this mission, endowed with “every spiritual blessing in the heavens” (Ephesians 1:3).

Of course we need to develop these gifts and hone our apostolic skills.  We need education and formation.

But neither Amos nor the apostles were perfectly polished before they were sent out.  If we wait till we know it all, we’ll never share it.  There comes a point where we just have to take Nike’s advice and “just do it!”  


Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio writes from Texas. For his resources on parenting and family life or information on his pilgrimages to Rome and the Holy Land, visit www.crossroadsinitiative.com or call 1.800.803.0118. This article originally appeared in Our Sunday Visitor and is reproduced here by permission of the author.


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About the Author

Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio writes from Texas. For his resources on parenting and family life or information on his pilgrimages to Rome and the Holy Land, visit www.crossroadsinitiative.com or call 1.800.803.0118.

Raised in Italian/Irish neighborhood in Providence, RI, Marcellino D’Ambrosio never thought about being anything else but Catholic. But like other Catholic teens, his faith was the last place he looked for fulfillment. Following in the footsteps of his parents, both professional performers in their single years, Marcellino set his sights on stardom, playing bass guitar in several popular rock bands by the time he was 16. At that time he encountered a group of Catholics whose Christian life was an exciting adventure, an adventure worth living for. So he laid his bass guitar aside and embarked on a road that led to a Ph.D. in historical theology from the Catholic University of America. His doctoral dissertation, written under the direction of the renowned Jesuit theologian, Avery Cardinal Dulles, focused on one of the theological lights of the Second Vatican Council, Henri Cardinal de Lubac, and his recovery of biblical interpretation of the early Church fathers.

His writing has been published in the international journal Communio, Abingdon’s Dictionary of Biblical Interpretation, the Tablet, Catholic Digest, Our Sunday Visitor, and Catholic News Service’s syndicated column "Faith Alive." His popular book, Exploring the Catholic Church and video course by the same name (known as Touching Jesus through the Church in the USA) have been used in hundreds of parishes all throughout the English speaking world. The Guide to the Passion: 100 Questions about the Passion of the Christ, of which he is co-author and co-editor, may prove to be the fastest-selling Catholic book of all time with over a million copies sold in less than three months.

Dr. D’Ambrosio, the father of five and a business owner, brings to his teaching a practical, down-to-earth perspective that makes his words easy to understand and put into practice. Audio and video recordings of his popular teaching are internationally distributed. He often appears on the international Eternal Word Television Network is regularly heard on the nationally syndicated radio show "Catholic Answers Live." Dr. D'Ambrosio has been a guest on Geraldo Rivera, At Large on FoxNews Channel, the Bill O'Reilly radio show and Radio America's news program Dateline: Washington.

In 2001 Dr. D’Ambrosio left his position at the University of Dallas to develop the work of Crossroads Productions, the apostolate of Catholic renewal and evangelization that he co-founded twenty years ago, and to more directly oversee the growth of Wellness Opportunities Group a company dedicated to helping people improve the quality of their lives physically, mentally, and financially. He, his wife Susan, and their five children, reside just outside of San Antonio, TX.

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