The Paradox

As water quenches a flaming fire, so almsgiving atones for sins.  Sirach 3:30

Reflection was based on this Sunday’s readings.

Have you read the book (or seen the movie) “Heaven Is For Real“?  It was a book about a child’s story of his trip to heaven and back.  It was thought that this could’ve happened during the time when he was undergoing surgery.

During one portion of the story, after the child was discharged from the hospital, the parents started receiving the hospital bills.  They realized they didn’t have enough money.  And the wife asked her husband whether they should hold off on giving any donation to the church.  The husband said they should keep giving to charity especially since their son  was saved from dying.  They were very grateful so they gave the money for the donation.

Strangely enough people started pouring in checks in the mail even though they didn’t ask for it.  And after adding up the amount, it was just enough to cover the initial payment for the hospital bill.

Have you ever experienced something similar like this?

Or have you heard similar stories?

There seems to be a paradox that the more we give to charity or the poor, we seem to be blessed even more in return.  (i.e. the amount given seems to come back with interest)

One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. Proverbs 11:24

The poor needs others to donate so they can have food to survive.  But according to Bo Sanchez (preacher), he said we need the poor more than they need us.  

And it’s because of the spiritual blessings that come with almsgiving.

Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. Luke 6:38

Aside from the monetary benefits that seem to accompany giving donations regularly, being generous seems to be accompanied by other benefits as well.  This paradox has been further investigated by the “Science of Generosity Initiative” at Notre Dame.  “Researchers for the initiative surveyed 2,000 individuals over a five-year period. They interviewed and tracked the spending habits and lifestyles of 40 families from different classes and races in 12 states, even accompanying some to the grocery store.” (Source:  New Republic)

The findings of the study are published in the book, “The Paradox of Generosity” by Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson.   A couple of the findings include lower depression rates and better health among those who regularly give donations.

“If you’re in trouble, or hurt or need – go to the poor people. They’re the only ones that’ll help – the only ones.” – John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

So should we give dole outs to people begging in the streets?

According to Bo Sanchez, dole outs like that don’t usually work.  What works is empowering the poor.

About a month ago I was fortunate to meet Sister Marivic.  Sister Marivic was a petite nun with a very happy disposition.  One lady described her like the angel on top of the Christmas tree that fell down to Earth.

Sister Marivic relates her missionary story.  She does missionary work in a small island of Marinduque.  The island is about the size of the Twin Cities in Minnesota.  There are only 3 nuns who coordinate the work for the entire island.   They feed the poor children on the island.  What happens is at the end of the day, the mothers would start cooking the food donation.  Then the children come home from school and eat dinner.  The bowls are limited so the other children would have to wait for the first batch to finish eating, then wash the bowls and feed the second batch and so on.  After everybody had food, they would go to church for mass.  Then the families would go home.

The missionary work eventually expanded to livelihood projects.  The mothers would donate a few cents each month. They are taught how to make their own soaps and other useful daily items.  The money grew enough that they are able to start their own little businesses.  The mothers are now very happy that they have savings and earn a little extra income on the side.

Aside from this, they also started planting their own food.  And they are now almost self sufficient.

“There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.”  – Mahatma Gandhi

At this point, you probably have more questions on your mind.  There’s a good interview article of the authors of “The Paradox of Generosity” book. You can check it out here:  “Want To Be Happy?  Stop Being So Cheap!

If you would like to learn more about Sister Marivic and her missionary work, you can check out this article, “Back from the Mission Fields.”

Bless and Be Blessed! =)

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20 thoughts on “The Paradox

  1. I agree with this philosophy wholeheartedly. It is better to give than to receive. The more you give, the more you receive. All true and proven in real life.

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  2. Giving to the needy is essential in our everyday life. It pays to give without a fault nor expecting a favor in return.And Sister Marivic is doing a great job at that – in a voluntary way! The rewards are high and it’s a further charge to every one of us to emulate exactly what she’s doing within our society or communities.

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    1. Thank you, Adeleke! I was really blessed by Sister Marivic’s visit and sharing with us! She is an inspiration to everyone she meets. God is doing great things through her and Risen Savior Missions. “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.” 1 Corinthians 3:6.

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  3. “If you’re in trouble, or hurt or need – go to the poor people. They’re the only ones that’ll help – the only ones” So true. It’s also good to help and give without expecting a return.

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    1. Thank you, Abie! It’s true. We should always give without expecting a return. =) The author of the quote wrote this in his book and plot was during the Great Depression where many people were suffering. Many deep thoughts in his book.

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  4. I think you can also view as “when you do good, good comes to you”. That’s one of the best rewards that you can receive when you show kindness to others.

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    1. Thank you, Elizabeth! I agree. I once met a doctor who saved a young child during the early part of his career. When the doctor grew older and got sick, the EMS who helped him was the young kid he saved in the past. We reap what we sow. =)

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