In Giving, We Receive

For it is in giving that we receive

I am preparing a class on the St. Francis prayer. I am both excited and nervous about leading this class. I have never done anything like this, yet I am excited to share what I have learned about this prayer with my church. My hope is this prayer will help others live the call of the Gospel.

This prayer while not necessarily straight from St. Francis is a portrait of the life he led. This was his life. From the moment he saw his first vision until his death he lived the words of this prayer. He might never have said or written these words, but his life is an example of what it means to live this prayer. He was and still is a vibrant example of the gospel life. While this prayer may or may not be original with St. Francis it describes not only who St. Francis was, but also what a life following Christ really looks like.

I would like to reflect on each line. I have posted my thoughts on this prayer once before and you can find that blog here:

I may even write a book based on this prayer.

We now are looking at the third and final section of the prayer, which goes deeper into what it means to pray and live the first seven imperatives. The prayer begins with seven imperatives and then expands on what it means by those seven imperatives. This line of the prayer is asking that we give to others, give of ourselves and live in such a way that we provide others with the hope, light, love, and joy they need. As we give of ourselves, we receive the love and grace of God. In the moment we give to our hurting brothers and sisters, we experience the presence of God. By loving and serving others we know that God loves us not for anything we could ever do or offer, but simply because God is love.

It is not always easy to give of ourselves, but the more we do it the more light and hope we find. The more we receive, the more we give. We give because Jesus first gave of himself. Jesus has shown us what it means to give of oneself. This line like the rest of the St. Francis Prayer is about being a presence of God’s love in the world. It’s about being a living presence of hope and light for others. There will be times when praying this prayer we need God’s love, hope, and peace in our life, as much if not more than we want to share these aspects of the Kingdom with others. God won’t zap us with these attitudes, but will give us moments in which to experience them in our life and the lives of those around us.

This line doesn’t say that if you give you will get. No, it’s the opposite. It’s in the very act of giving that we get. You give someone a gift not because you know they will give you something, but for their happiness. We give of ourselves to bring joy and light to the person, to the world not to get repayment for our giving. You give of yourself for the sake of another not for anything we would or could receive. What we receive in giving is the giving itself. In giving, you find that you have received more than you’ve given. This is why it’s been said that it is more blessed to give then to get. The gift is not nearly as important as the act of giving. The selfless act of caring for the other person has the power to change lives and the world.

St. Therese de Lisieux said, “Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love.”

Elaborate and expensive gifts are not needed. Sometimes the gifts that are made by the giver means more than any store bought thing. Giving of ourselves is not only about gifts you can wrap up in pretty paper crowned with a bow. A smile, greeting a stranger, talking with someone, helping another, opening a door, weeding a neighbors garden, picking up trash doesn’t require much, but can mean so much to both the giver and receiver.

Today, find some small way to give of yourself.


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