Emmitsburg Council of Churches

Keep loving our Lord thru Service!

Father John J. Lombardi

"It is in giving that we receive." St Francis of Assisi

There is irony here in St Francis’ saying. Giving is receiving. Seems counter intuitive, especially since we seemingly wanna’ "get" more and more. Yet innately we believe St Francis’s saying to be true. Perhaps because of the guy who said it­St Francis. We know that he received a lot – sainthood, the stigmata a lotta followers, holy acknowledgement, and we believe therefore that if we give like him we will somehow receive and be rewarded in right ways. Next, we know deep down that when we give, we go out of ourselves, open up what was previously closed and bordered and that, sometime, somehow we will receive in return­"you reap what you sew" as Jesus said. Now add in "The American spirit" which means to give­to help a neighbor, to give another person a chance, to donate money, to help a hurricane victim, share time treasure and talent with others –Americans embody the "can do spirit" and therefore giving is part of our culture and consciousness.

A mother certainly gives, and so does a father and a soccer coach and a public legislator and teacher and a nun and…Talk to them all and you’ll hear in some language that they receive in return when they give and sometimes much more than they originally gave. This may be called the "magic" or "mysticism" of giving­a certain immeasurability and multiplicity to it all­good is diffusive of itself. So keep on giving and remember to serve is to give and don’t forget to give the most to God­time, talent and treasure. Talent in sharing your giftedness with your church-parish; giving time to the Lord and His poor; and treasure in donating to our parishes and other good organizations to help them!

In the Gospel Jesus also gives us another irony- parable: only the child-like can enter the Kingdom of Heaven. So, what are the attributes of being a child? Following are four that I think of Wonder: Children show openness and an adventuresome spirit. Children may often say the word awesome indicating their amazement with new and even old things, a sense we adults have perhaps lost. We may be more wasted than wondrous. An adult friend recently saw a picture of spiritual buildings high up in Spanish mountains and exclaimed: "O that’s awesome!" That’s child-likeness. We may think of the Saint: John Bosco who adventured to help street kids and forged a new ministry to the poor. Recover that wonder you had as a child!

Innocence: Children remind us of purity, nobility; and abandonment of ego and intellect, calling us to let go more and surrender. The opposite of innocence is pollution of soul. This can happen thru overexposure to violence, bad language, corrupting experiences, too much media or possessions. St Therese of Liseaux reminds us to be child-like.

Joy: child-likeness is lightheartedness , energy and exuberance; stressing affections and sentiments over intellect and rationalism, versus serenity and peace. St Phillip Neri carried a joke book and often played music and tricks. Don’t’ be jaded but joyful.

Present Moment: I just talked to Fr John, an archdiocesan priest, who recently moved to a new parish after a sixteen yr. stint at his last. I asked him if he missed his last parish-assignment? He said, something like: Well a little, but God has blessed me a lot God and has given me the gift to be in the present moment Saint: Br Lawrence of the Resurrection who wrote the book: "Practice the Presence of God" and did that by washing dishes making meals and fixing sandals­showing us the sanctification of ordinary things is a way to holiness.

Adaptabiltiy: Children can move and go from place to time and different space­they "roll with the punches". As we grow older we get more brittle and set in our ways­not always well. Bl. Damien the Leper Priest moved from cushy Europe and familiar friends to Polynesian ways to Hawaii-Molokai to minister to leprous folks and died with them. Because of his amenability and adaptability he will soon declared a saint: Oct.11

So we are called to be adult children of the Most High Lord and God!

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi