Christopher Alvin de la Fuente: Finding God in Giving

Children in the remote Cotabato.
Children of a remote barrio in Cotabato. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

Christopher de la Fuente reflects on the following today on St. Ignatius of Loyola and the following scripture passage: “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) Offer to Christ a grateful heart that desires to know, love and follow him in all that we do. Mr. de la Fuente is from Class 12D.

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In Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s popular novel “Shadow of the Wind” the main character, Daniel Sempére feels distraught and heartbroken after receiving a right hook from his rival in love after finding him together with the love of his life on the day of his birthday. With a crushed self-esteem and a broken heart, Daniel tells his father not to give him any presents because “he doesn’t deserve any.” To which Daniel’s father replies “Presents are made for the pleasure of those who give them, not for the merit of those who receive them.” Daniel relents and opens the present which was a pen he had always wanted. With a lump in his throat and a big smile on his face he hugs his father with a beaming smile from seeing his son happy again.

Daniel’s father makes a great point regarding giving. When we give at such a level, we end up being happier than the one who receives the gift. It is similar to what St. Francis of Assisi said “for it is in giving that we receive.” This is because giving genuinely is a selfless act wherein you are just considering the happiness of the other person. You are no longer thinking about yourself but what is beneficial for the other person. The beauty comes in the fact that in your selfless act of giving to the person, the happiness of the person is what genuinely makes you happy in turn.

Simply, their comfort and happiness is what ends up making you happy since ultimately for you their happiness comes before yours and the whole process itself is love and an act of love.

Jesus Christ of course exemplified this genuine giving like no other. He underwent being doubted, whipped, crowned with thorns, and crucified all for our benefit. He willingly put all of sinners first before his own comfort just so that we may be saved, just so that we may become happier. Through all of this Jesus Christ set the ultimate example of genuine giving to us. As it says in the bible John 15:13 “No one has greater love than this, to lay down’s one life for one’s friends.” After all it is through Christ that we are led to God the Father; it is in following his example that we are led to salvation. What better way than to give genuinely, to give selflessly, to love?

How then should we love? How much should we give? Jesus too had an answer for this through Luke 21:1-4 The Poor Widow’s Contribution: When he looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins. He said, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.” From these verses we can see the important lesson that in giving, it is less about “how much” and more about how much of what you have you are giving. The less you think about what will be left with you, the more selfless you are; the more selfless you are, the more loving you become.

When it comes to applying these and following Christ’s example of glorifying the Father through selfless love, St. Ignatius does it exceptionally well. St. Ignatius gave up his lavish lifestyle of earthly pleasures for his faith in God. His remarkable act of offering his sword thus his old lifestyle to Our Lady of Montserrat served as a great example for everyone to follow. He turned his life around and dedicated it to God. A great example St. Ignatius understand the idea of giving genuinely and selflessly which he showed with much apt through his famous “Prayer for Generosity” where he states “ to give and not to count the cost.”

Overall the ability to give genuinely is something we should value. It brings us closer to God who commanded us to love as he too gave His only son for our benefit. With every opportunity to give in life we should try our best to think of others before we think of ourselves, for after all as it is said, it is in giving that we receive, it is pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in loving that we are loved.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus Christ please help us understand the value of giving and how it brings us closer to God. May you please guide us to follow your example as someone who is selfless and loving as it glorifies the Heavenly Father. We would very much like to thank You for all the chances You give us to better ourselves for others and ultimately for You, selflessly. Amen

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