Today I was invited to our local St Brigid’s Primary School and was shown how to make the traditional St Brigid’s Cross from rushes. The one on the left is my effort and the one on the right was a gift from one of the students. People put these on their houses and farm buildings to invoke God’s blessing.
Saint Brigid is the secondary patron of Ireland, after Saint Patrick. She was born around 454. When she was young her father wished to make a suitable marriage for her but she insisted that she wanted to consecrate herself to God. She received the veil and spiritual formation probably from Saint Mel and she stayed for a while under his direction in Ardagh. Others followed her example and this led to her founding a double monastery in Kildare, with a section for men and a section for women. Through Brigid’s reputation as a spiritual teacher, the monastery became a centre of pilgrimage. She died in 524 and she is venerated not only throughout Ireland but in several European lands. She was renowned for her hospitality, almsgiving and care of the sick. The gospel reading is very suited for her feast because it calls on us to be generous not only to those who are generous to us but even to our enemies. Jesus declares in that gospel reading, ‘Give, and there will be gifts for you: a full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap’. Jesus is saying that if our focus is on giving, then we will discover that we receive more than we give. It could be said to the contrary that if our focus is on receiving then we will be ultimately disappointed. It is not the case that we give with a view to receiving. It is simply that we give in various ways, in accordance with our gifts, abilities and energies, and we discover along the way that we are actually receiving more than we are giving. The most extreme form of giving, according to the gospel reading, is to love those who do not love us and to give to those from whom we have no hope of receiving anything in return. This kind of giving has a divine quality and it opens up our hearts to receiving a great abundance from the Lord.
Weekday Reflections: To know the love of Christ 2016/2017
The Gospel of the day Luke 6:32-38.
If you love those who love you what thanks can you expect? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what thanks can you expect? For even sinners do that much. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what thanks can you expect? Even sinners lend to sinners to get back the same amount. Instead, love your enemies and do good, and lend without any hope of return. You will have a great reward, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
‘Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge, and you will not be judged yourselves; do not condemn and you will not be condemned yourselves; grant pardon, and you will be pardoned. Give, and there will be gifts for you: a full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap; because the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back.’