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God the Lavish

The Lord is a lavish giver. He’s never stingy. You need only look at the bounty of the created world. Whatever he does or gives, he goes the whole way. That doesn’t mean that he gives us too much straight away. He measures out his abundance according to our capacity to receive at any given time, but he always seeks to increase our capacity, if we let him, until, in the end, he is able to give us everything.

The lavish style of the Lord overflows from the Word of God for today.

Saint Paul tells us that he can go on an empty stomach as well as a full one. He can endure poverty as much as wealth. That might sound as though the Lord withdraws his gifts sometimes. Perhaps, yes, at the material level. But it’s always for a more generous purpose. For Paul goes on to say that he is now able spiritually to face all things with the help of the Lord who is in him, strengthening him. So, God may withdraw the material but only to increase the spiritual in us. When Paul tells the Philippians that the Father will reward them in Christ “as lavishly as only God can”, he is speaking from experience: he himself is constantly being given Christ’s own strength to face all things. That’s something worth pondering during this Covid season.

Lavishness abounds even more in Psalm 22. Because the Lord is my shepherd there is nothing I shall want. He will provide everything. Not just a meal, but a banquet, not just a sip of wine, but an overflowing cup, not just water to wash my face but oil poured over my head to anoint me. His presence protects me from the evils of the dark valley and affords me instead goodness and mercy all the days of my life. That protection is very much with us at this Covid time, although he would expect us to take due measures to protect ourselves and others. It is He who has given us the public authorities of Church and State to guide us (provided the State doesn’t overplay its hand and violate our rights), the masks for our faces, the gel for our hands, all to protect us.

It would be to tempt God to expect that he will protect you if you are not taking the proper measures to protect yourself. So, when we know an indoor place or any other place is not observing the measures it should to protect those who are there, we should avoid it out of charity towards ourselves and towards others. Our behaviour in the current serious situation could be a matter of life and death for ourselves and for others.

Then, in the Gospel parable, the Father invites all and sundry into the wedding banquet for his Son, an image which foreshadows the lavish abundance of eternal life when the Kingdom has come in all its fullness – and Covid and all its permutations have gone.

Allow yourself to be spoiled by the lavish gifts of God. The more you open up to him, the more he will fill you. In turn, you will learn to imitate the lavishness of the Lord in sharing and giving what he has shared with and given to you. Let us be generous with God’s gifts: generous to others and generous to ourselves, for the more you give, the more you will be given back, Covid or no Covid.

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