In my three years as a priest I have seen the many faces of generosity countless of times in this parish. They are not really that extraordinary so to say in terms of amount or effort. But every time they do happen, I always felt amazement, especially in their desire to “keep everything in secret.”
A parishioner and a reader of Candle Light who insisted on her anonymity, wrote in a letter dropped at our donation box telling that she “went to a bank wanting to start a savings account for five hundred pesos.” Her initial deposit however was denied, for the minimum amount required by the bank was two thousand pesos. So, finding that she could not make it earn interest in a bank, she deposited it in our donation box hoping, I would like to believe, that it would earn a long term “interest” for the people of God in our parish. (I assure you we would do our best!)
During our information drive last month in preparation for our fiesta, I always come home after the mass, twenty pesos or a hundred or two richer given by simple barangay people who would wait for me patiently so that nobody could see, and discreetly give their donation as they whisper in my ears, “Father, for Candle Light”. One person dropped in our collection bag ten pesos carefully wrapped in yellow paper with a big handwritten sign saying “Thank You.” And of course there are our regular donors who have never failed us through the years and those who have shared time talent and treasure preferring the anonymity of a generous heart to make us glow for six years. To them I would like to say thank you so much and may the God “who sees what you do in secret” make good His promise of rewarding you a hundred fold.
The generous people of today have indeed taken seriously the gospel injunction to do generous acts secretly and without fanfare. It is a departure from the practice a generation ago of immortalizing a good deed in lapidas, church walls and glaring parish announcements. Sometimes whenever a benefactor hands me an envelope (donations or articles) I always feel lacking in my gratitude and ask myself “have I thanked them enough?” I know I couldn’t approximate to your generosity even though how much I try. I could never repay fully anybody using the scale of justice. But God will, and when He does, one will discover that He is indeed a God who will not be outdone in generosity.
On Wednesday, as we start the season of Lent, let us try to live out the message of our readings for the day - that we should not parade our goodness for people to see, that we “should not let our left hand know what our right hand is doing.” After all if we examine more closely our lives there is really nothing worth showing-off. Our generosity is our way of repaying back our debts of sinfulness committed against God and our fellowmen. This is precisely the reason why we start this season of Lent with a prayer for forgiveness - a prayer which acknowledges that we continue to hurt each other and get hurt by each other’s actions. Generosity and goodness are our way of repaying these debts and our way of stopping this vicious cycle.