7th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C
Why Do You Give?
“If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other side…” (Luke 6:29) Who wants to do that? I actually think this gospel is really all about generosity. Give. Give until it hurts. And then give a little more. And the kicker is, don’t expect thanks.
With the preschoolers this week, we’re illustrating this gospel with cookies:
If you have two cookies and share with a friend, is that generous? Yes!
If you have one cookie and break it in half to share, is that generous? Yes!
If you and your friend each have a different kind of cookie and you swap with your friend because they don’t like the raisins in their cookie, is that generous? Yes!
If your friend doesn’t have a cookie and you give them yours, is that generous? Yes!
Those are all great examples of generosity, and Jesus would be so proud! As I wrote up the lesson, though, I kept hearing myself ask, “And what do you say?” after each action. When my kids were little, if I didn’t hear a “thank you,” they practiced until those golden words slipped out.
But, what happens if you see someone on the corner, someone you don’t know, someone who doesn’t have a cookie? What if you give them your cookie, and they don’t say, “thank you?” I think that’s the other cheek Jesus was talking about in this gospel. By not getting a “thank you,” we’ve been metaphorically slapped, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep giving—offering our other cheek—not to get thanks, but simply because they need it.
When we lived in NYC, sometimes I would carry McDonald’s gift cards to hand out to the homeless. I almost always heard a very robust, “Thank you!” as I stepped away, warmed by own generosity. In a way, I’d given myself a gift too.
But there was one guy who occasionally stood on a corner near our apartment. Out of gift cards one cold morning, I bought him a bagel and a cup of coffee. He grabbed the bag, stuffed the bagel in his mouth, and turned from me as he sugared his coffee. I was momentarily stunned. As we walked away, my son said, “But, Mommy, he didn’t say ‘thank you.’”
No, he didn’t. And I didn’t like it. But do I thank God every morning for my toast and hot tea? No, I don’t. God probably doesn’t like that either. Yet God doesn’t stop giving.
We saw the guy again a week or so later. Joseph and I ducked in East Side Bagel and bought him breakfast. He still didn’t thank us, and I still didn’t like it, but this time I had turned the other cheek. Getting thanks wasn’t why I gave.
Written by Ansley Dauenhauer, Coordinator of Elementary Faith Formation