2 Corinthians 8:1-9

Here, brothers, is the news of the grace of God which was given in the churches in Macedonia; and of how, throughout great trials by suffering, their constant cheerfulness and their intense poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity. I can swear that they gave not only as much as they could afford, but far more, and quite spontaneously, begging and begging us for the favour of sharing in this service to the saints and, what was quite unexpected, they offered their own selves first to God and, under God, to us.

Because of this, we have asked Titus, since he has already made a beginning, to bring this work of mercy to the same point of success among you. You always have the most of everything - of faith, of eloquence, of understanding, of keenness for any cause, and the biggest share of our affection - so we expect you to put the most into this work of mercy too. It is not an order that I am giving you; I am just testing the genuineness of your love against the keenness of others. Remember how generous the Lord Jesus was: he was rich, but he became poor for your sake, to make you rich out of his poverty.

Matthew 5:43-48

Jesus said to his disciples: “You have learnt how it was said: You must love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; in this way you will be sons of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on bad men as well as good, and his rain to fall on honest and dishonest men alike. For if you love those who love you, what right have you to claim any credit? Even the tax collectors do as much, do they not? And if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional? Even the pagans do as much, do they not? You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Have you ever met people who were nice to you for the sake of getting something out of you? I’m sure you have. They are so common. We are like that most of the time too. But have you ever met a rarer breed of people who were nice to you because they are nice people?

Very often, we are nice to people because we want to make use of them. I need not give examples here; I am sure you can think of plenty on your own. But when we make use of people for our own ends, we are not loving them as persons. We see them as objects to use for our own purposes. Once we’re done with them, we forget about them and throw them aside… until we next need to use them again.

There is a priest who I am very much inspired by. He is nice to me because he is a nice person. He places great value on relationships with people and sometimes drops them (and me) a note to say that he’s thinking of me and praying for me. That priest is truly loving and he truly spreads love. When I think of him, I feel like doing something nice like he does for another person. Not because I want to use the person for my own purposes, but simply because it’s a nice thing to do; it’s a loving thing to do.

Where does this love come from? It comes from the one who is love himself. It is the very nature of love itself to share itself with others. Not just share the love, but to share itself. Thus when we share ourselves with others, when we make a gift of ourselves to others, we are truly loving them.

Lord Jesus, help us to become perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect, and to love others as you love us, that is, by giving yourself to us. Help us to love others by giving ourselves to others. Amen.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: His gift of self to us.

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