May 20, 2020
by Eileen Wirth
Creighton University's Retired
click here for photo and information about the writer

Wednesday of the Sixth Week of Easter
Lectionary: 293

Acts 17:15, 22--18:1
Psalms 148:1-2, 11-12, 13, 14
John 16:12-15

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Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer


The God who made the world and all that is in it, the Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands because he needs anything. Rather it is he who gives to everyone life and breath and everything.
- Acts of the Apostles

When my mom was in her 90’s, I stopped giving her birthday and Christmas presents because she needed nothing. Instead I contributed to a homeless kitchen in her honor, knowing that she was happiest in giving to others. She never asked, let alone demanded, anything from her children so we tried to repay her by following her example. Our reward was her joy.

Thinking of Mother helps me relate to the image of God that St. Paul paints in today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles. “Nor is he served by human hands because he needs anything. Rather it is he who gives to everyone life and breath and everything.”

Since God needs nothing from us, why bother to worship and serve him? Why not just lead a life centered on our own pleasures?

Answer: because prayer and service meet OUR needs, not God’s.  

We worship and pray because we need God’s inspiration, consolation and guidance in coping with our daily problems. Often, we are rewarded with insights or simply the courage to endure. If we don’t pray and worship, it wouldn’t bother God but it would create a void in our lives.

Similarly, God doesn’t need us to give him anything but failing to give would hurt us because as St. Francis tells us, “it is in giving that we receive.” In other words, giving is its own reward because it makes us happy.

Do you know any happy people who are selfish or narcissistic? Do self-centered people ever receive the love they so desperately crave? They may coerce others into meeting specific demands but at the cost of anger or resentment.

I remember a colleague whose mother had rejected a gift as insufficient and demanded something grander. The daughter complied but it’s hard to believe that the new gift made the mother genuinely happy. Mom must have known that the gift of love she sought is voluntary.   

On the other hand, the givers who never worry about thanks are rewarded with love such as my mother received from us because she never asked it. I think God has hard wired his creatures to experience joy when they are generous. As the medical missionary Albert Schweitzer said, “the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”

I like to think of God as a loving parent who invites us to worship and give in order to fulfill our needs, not his, since he has none. Worshiping and giving are also the recipe for a great and happy life.

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