God Loves A Cheerful Giver
Yesterday, we began reading passages from 2 Corinthians 8. Today, we read from 2 Corinthians 9 which is a follow-up letter. In chapter 8, we find Paul telling the Corinthians to prepare their collection; for that purpose he will be sending Titus and two other brothers who have been proven for their integrity. In chapter 9, Paul informs the Corinthians that he and some Macedonian brothers will be coming to make the collection. He tells them to make good his boasts about them. A year before, the Corinthians have shown how eager they were about the collections and have even pledged a certain amount. Because of this, Paul had been talking about the generosity of the Corinthians among the other communities (2 Corinthians 9:1-2). In chapter 8, Paul had urged the Corinthians to make good their promise. Now that he will be coming with representatives from Macedonia whose communities have been overwhelmingly generous inspite of the difficulties they are having (2 Corinthians 8:1-4), he doesn’t want the Corinthians to look less than generous. It was for this reason in the first place, that he sent brothers to prepare the collections (9:4)
In 2 Corinthians 9, Paul presents two proverbs about generosity.
Whosoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly
and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
The saying is drawn from agriculture. He who sows a lot will have much more to harvest than one who does not sow much.
The other saying is “God loves a cheerful giver.”
Paul draws out the relevance of these two sayings through a quotation from Psalm 112:9, “He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” Paul’s comment on this verse brings out the idea that God himself will repay those who are generous to others
Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God (9:10-11)
The generosity by which the Corinthians carry out their particular ministry (diakonia — remember the meaning “almsgiving”) will redound to them in terms of God’s blessings but will also be the occassiion of more thanksgiving (eucharistia)1 raised to God. Not only God will be “rewarding” them but also those who will witness their generosity and because of it will be joining in praising God those eucharistic communities already praying for them. Paul therefore is not only referring to the help that the Corinthians will be giving economically to those in need, but the spiritual benefits that will incur to them and to the whole Church. Paul speaks of this in terms of the multiplication of thanksgiving to God (“overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God” (NIV) ) which may also be a reference to the increase of men and women who break bread with the eucharistic communities witnessing the generosity of the Coriinthians. Thus, generosity in almsgiving becomes also an occassion for the building up of the body of Christ.2
A Note About The Image
The illustration for this blog is the five loaves and two fishes in the account of the feeding of the five thousand. Remember that the disciples take the bread and fish from a boy who gives it to them willingly. Thus, from the generosity of a kid and the blessing of the Lord, the hunger of five thousand was satisfied. The gospel account of the feeding of the five thousand somehow jives in well with the message of our Pauline selection.
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