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March 3, 2021

Lenten Gestures - Receiving

I broke my elbow at the end of April, 2020, and it’s been a long road of recovery involving two surgeries and a lot of physical therapy.

Matthew 25:15

"to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability"

St. Thomas Aquinas gives us this philosophical maxim: “the giver gives according to the mode of the receiver”. How interesting to reflect on this when we think of the structure and act of gift-giving: we often, I think, conceive of gift-giving as initiated and determined by the giver. If I am the giver, I decide what the gift to my intended recipient will be, as well as when and how I will give. All of the most important decisions, as it were, about the entire exchange seem to be on the side of the giver. But both this parable and its corresponding philosophical principle seem to challenge this conclusion: perhaps the giver does initiate the exchange, but it is the receiver who determines the structure of the act—indeed the gift itself, and therefore we might say that in a certain sense the receiver determines the act of giving, and therefore the giver himself.


What could this mean for our present Scriptural context? Do we dare say that we determine the Lord and his giving? I think that we can. The Lord is *the* Giver: he who determines and shapes what all other giving is. This means that all giving participates in his foundational generosity, a generosity which infinitely flows from him simply because that is his nature. But insofar as he created a receiver of his generosity, this means it is also in his nature to pay attention to and care for the receiver. And this attention, as the parable demonstrates, can be both wonder- and awe-ful. But let’s be clear: it is only so because of the power that has been given to us in the receiving: the power to determine the action of the giver (and therefore the giver himself), a power which of course he has also bestowed on us. The giver has allowed to determine him in our receiving, and we should approach such a task with fear and awe.


Art: Dea Jenkins | Land | watercolor | 2020

Practice:

Based on yesterday's spiritual gifts assessment, what were your top three gifts? Did the results surprise you? Did they offer confirmation for what God has already unfolded in your life?


Take the top three gifts and spend today praying over them, asking God to further reveal how the gifts are operating in your life. Also ask that God would deepen your understanding of the gifts and how they might be of service to others within your spheres of influence.


Tip: Have a journal on hand. When God responds to today's prayers, take note of what God is saying during this time. You may choose to return to these notes later as a way of documenting this part of your journey.

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