Thursday of the 14th Week of Ordinary Time: Freely Give

Today's readings

Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.

There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but there is free grace. And today Jesus reminds us that free grace is exactly what we have been given. It's good on occasion to stop and take an account of all the grace in our lives. We all have problems at any given time in our lives, but we have to stop and take a look at the many graces that outnumber and overtake them all.

There is an ancient Jewish prayer called the Dayenu prayer. In it, the pray-er is enumerating how blessed he or she is, and noting that God did not have to go to all the lengths he does to bless us. The prayer is based on Jewish history and it goes like this:

How many levels of favors has the Omnipresent One bestowed upon us:
If He had brought us out from Egypt, and had not carried out judgments against them-Dayenu, it would have been enough!
If He had carried out judgments against them, and not against their idols-Dayenu, it would have been enough!
If He had destroyed their idols, and had not smitten their firstborn-Dayenu, it would have been enough!
If He had smitten their firstborn, and had not given us their wealth-Dayenu, it would have been enough!
If He had given us their wealth, and had not split the sea for us-Dayenu, it would have been enough!

The prayer goes on like this for a while, but you get the idea. The Israelites were delivered from the slavery of Egypt to the grace of the present time, and they never forget that. We could all write our own Dayenu prayer, I think. In fact, if you would like to do a little homework today, that would be it! The reason to stop and recite our dayenus and number our graces is not simply to feel superior, or even to be thankful (although being thankful is good, too!). The real reason, and the reason Jesus gives us in today's Gospel, is that, knowing hour graced we are, we can go out and be grace to others.

As you go, make this proclamation:
'The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.'
Cure the sick, raise the dead,
cleanse the lepers, drive out demons.
Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.

Grace is a great gift to us, but it's never meant only for us. As much as we have been given grace, we're expected to be sharers of that grace with others. The grace in our lives never decreases as we share it; in fact, it grows all the more.

Without cost your have received; without cost you are to give.

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