I praise You Jesus, because You assure me of Your care in times of mission. Teach me how to be humble when giving and receiving gifts. Help me to be obedient to Your teachings and to Your Holy Spirit's guidance. Amen.
God has his own exchange policy when it comes to giving and receiving gifts. It takes a little getting used to -- it's not what we normally experience in the earthly world.
"Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give," Jesus says in our Gospel reading today. God has freely given us his mercy, his kindness, many blessings, our talents that can be turned into income, our homes, our families, and best of all, his salvation -- even though we have not deserved it. But that's only half of the equation. Whatever gifts we've received from the Lord we are to give as gifts to others without stopping to consider whether or not they deserve it.
Reflect on your talents, the knowledge and insights you've gained, the skills you've learned, the maturity that grew out of your sufferings, and so on. These blessings have made you rich in non-material ways. They have lifted your spirit, graced you with joy, provided healing, and filled you with a satisfying peace.
Consider also the material goods that he's provided. Even if you worked hard to get them, God is the original source of everything that you own. If what you have purchased is good and does not lead to sin, God is very pleased with his investment, but it is meant to be shared.
We are distributors of his blessings. If a gift from God sits quietly unused in the closet of our selfishness, the good feelings that came with it dissipate rather quickly. But in passing it on to others, the blessings take deeper root and expand. We experience more of God's loving, generous abundance.
That's the first half of God's exchange policy. The second half is to allow others to pass on to us the gifts that God has given to them. Just as we are to be generous, so too are we to allow others to be generous toward us when God says to them, "Distribute this to my dear friend!"
Jesus told his disciples to travel unpacked. Even when we can take care of our own needs, God wants us to experience the blessing of community life. He wants us to allow others to feel good about sharing what God has given to them. By graciously accepting what they offer, they experience more of God's loving abundance in exchange.
God's gift exchange policy can be summed up like this: Freely give and freely receive. This is how the blessings spread and multiply throughout the world.
What if someone refuses to accept what you try to give them, or what if they abuse it? Don't wallow in unforgiveness. Move on, shaking the dirt from your shoes. This is yet another way to gift them with your love. It gives them more time to become ready to receive the blessings, which, by the way, most likely will come from someone else, not you. We all work together, even when we never meet the stranger who finally delivers the gift.
God distributes his gifts through the community. Receiving gifts from others is how he touches us with his love. And freely passing on to others what he's given to us is how he touches others. And thus God becomes more fully present in the world.