Tuesday July 23, 2019
7:29 am

Maybe it’s time to ponder the true roots of our generosity, our care for others

 

by Debbie Bosak

     The images of the devastation caused by the recent hurricanes in Texas and Florida have been horrifying, haven’t they? However, the stories of acts of kindness and generosity toward victims abound.

     Everyone probably caught the story on the evening new about the woman who was next in line at the local big box store to buy a generator. Her father was on oxygen, a literal lifeline, and she was worried about what would happen in a power failure.

     Stepping up to the counter, she was told they had just sold the last one. She burst into tears, explaining the urgency to the store manager. The man who had just bought that last generator for his family overheard. Yep, he let the woman have the generator in his place.

     People opened their homes to evacuees with nowhere else to flee. First responders risked their own lives to save people who were trapped, even though they realized many had just been stubborn about guarding their “stuff” and refused to leave.

     Animal shelters, including in the Chicago area, pleaded with people to adopt so there would be room to shelter pets from the storm area, holding them safe until their families could safely bring them back home.

     In Coral Springs, Fla., a first responder was spotted chasing a wind-swept American flag down the street. This happened on Sept. 11. Sent chills down my back! For him, it wasn’t just a piece of cloth; it was, in his mind, his country. He rescued that flag in spite of the weather.

     Locally, our parishes, here in the diocese and around the country, collected thousands and thousands of dollars for hurricane relief. Catholic Charities, the charitable arm of the Catholic Church here in the U.S., has already donated well over $2 million – 100 percent going to the relief efforts (note, it’s not too late to donate if you missed the special collection – go to catholiccharitiesusa.org/).

     While many of these stories have brought a tear or two to my eyes while thinking of the generous hearts of Americans, there was this nagging thought trying to worm its way into my head. I tried to push it back and not deal with it, but it persisted, so I let it come to the light. Hypocrites, it said.

     Now before you get angry with me, let me explain. How can a people – a nation – be so generous in the face of complete disaster, and yet so hateful to their neighbors? How is it that we easily throw that $20 bill into the special collection at church and then fight with fellow parishioners to be the first out of the parking lot? How can we have compassion in our hearts for disaster victims yet cannot find room to forgive family members?

     How can we, with the best of intentions, donate water, supplies, food, blankets, clothes, furniture, to those affected by hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, fires, etc., yet hate migrants and their children who are often fleeing oppression and seeking a better life?

     No, I don’t believe people should break the law to enter the county illegally, so please don’t call me. However, people – each a child of God - are here and can’t be ignored or treated poorly. So, why aren’t we taking a more proactive stance by demanding our politicians seriously work harder on immigration reform. Isn’t the more charitable thing to do is fix the problem rather than slap a multi-billion dollar bandage on it in the form of a wall?

     Is it easier to be generous when we’re not the ones being downtrodden? When they are faceless strangers? When we’re muttering, “Thank God it’s not me!” Can we truly claim to care for God’s children, yet hang on to the hatred of racism in our heart?

     Generosity seems to wane more than a bit when we perceive, much like the laborers the vineyard in this Sunday’s Gospel (Matt 20:1-16a) who became incensed when they thought they weren’t getting their fair share of the pie.

     Let’s read over the Gospel once again and ask ourselves how deep our generosity goes and what are our motives for giving. Is it something we drag out only in times of crisis to make ourselves feel good? Or do we cultivate a deep generosity as a way of life?

Interesting to ponder, isn’t it?

 

Debbie Bosak is the editor and general manager of Northwest Indiana Catholic Publications and a member of Ss. Peter and Paul parish in Merrillville. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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