First Reading: 2 Corinthians 9:6-11
The point is this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work. As it is written, "He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures for ever." He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your resources and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for great generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 112:1-4, 9
Praise the LORD. Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in his commandments! His descendants will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in his house; and his righteousness endures for ever. Light rises in the darkness for the upright; the LORD is gracious, merciful, and righteous. He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures for ever; his horn is exalted in honor.
Gospel: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
I have been a mother for seven years now, which is from when my first child came into existence. It was something I felt called to do, something I wanted, and something that I am glad to be. But there are days when I wonder why I thought this would be fulfilling.
As I anticipated the birth of my fourth baby, I started to dread the sacrifices that a new baby requires of me. The middle of the night feedings, the discomfort of milk coming in, the post-partum recovery, and so on, which all made sense given the months of undiagnosed post-partum depression I went through after my third baby was born. But now that I know how to get help for that, I realized that I was being filled with a lot of irrational fears and even spiritual attacks on my vocation.
Every major step of the way in my life, I have discerned prayerfully what I am called to do next. My marriage was discerned, and the openness to each child was discerned. But discernment is one thing and living it is another.
In a recent discussion on vocations, specifically those to religious life, a priest, another couple, and my husband and I realized that the world often views someone choosing religious life because they believe that they will be “happy.” But often discerning is not always about what makes one “happy” now, but what God is calling us to for our ultimate happiness, our final happiness.
A woman who has chosen the religious life may find it difficult to fulfill her daily tasks or wonder why that is what she chose just as a wife and mother may find the daily grind to be too much for her. But this is the life we have chosen, the life that God has given us.
The First Reading is perfect on how to live out vocations:
“He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.”
“God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work.”
“You will be enriched in every way for great generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.”
Even after seven years of motherhood, I am still learning to be generous with what I give my children. I want to sow bountifully, so that I will also reap bountifully. I want to be the cheerful giver, even when it hurts. What I give my family is nothing compared to what Christ gave us all on the Cross. I pray that by the help of grace, I can live this way, and that on this earthly journey I will be enriched for my generosity, and that my final reward is the mercy I will receive despite my failed attempts.
Pray today for the grace to be more generous in your vocation. Discern where you need to give more. Hope in God’s grace.
Susanna Spencer once studied theology and philosophy, but now happily cares for her three adorable little girls and her dear husband. She is awaiting the birth of her fourth child any day now. You can find out more about her here.