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After writing today’s post, Please Pray for Our Priests, I thought I would write something a little less somber and with less gravity. I posted Looking for God Moments on Monday about an experience of grace I received the previous day. Well, the Lord didn’t wait long to bring me to another one of those moments. Let me tell you what happened yesterday.

On Monday night in a meeting with 13 other men, we talked about qualities we need to exhibit to imitate Christ. Two of those were generosity and forgiveness. With respect to forgiveness I mentioned that I easily forgive others and have never held grudges. On the other hand, I feel I struggle with being generous to others in the form of encouragement and affirmation. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist, just that I wish I were better at it.

Yesterday morning after reading the Gospel from Mark 3:35 where Jesus says, “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother”, and knowing that the will of God is to love him and others, I recollected the discussion from the previous evening. I realized I could love others more effectively by improving my generosity and making others feel valued. My resolution for the day was to look for and take advantage of any opportunities that might arise.

Finishing my prayers, I noticed I had a notification on my FaceBook page saying that it was the birthday of my Tuesday afternoon Holy hour prayer partner. Since I would see her later in the day I saw this as an opportunity for which I had just prayed and resolved to take action. I found a nice blank note card and wrote an encouraging birthday greeting inside. Then later, just before I headed out the door to go to church for my hour of Adoration, I was looking for a book to take and read. I noticed in my book case that I had two copies of Henri J.M. Nouwen’s book, Life of the Beloved. Deciding that I didn’t need two copies, I thought one might make a nice birthday gift for my friend.

As I pulled into the church parking lot my prayer partner was doing the same. With book and card in hand I approached her and gave her my gift. The joy she showed in receiving the gifts bounced straight back to me.

She exclaimed, “How did you know?”

I replied, “Well I saw on FaceBook that it was your birthday.”

She said, “No, I mean how did you know I’ve been wanting to read this book and I planned to go to the bookstore after work tomorrow to get it so I can take it with me on a silent retreat this weekend!”

I replied, “Ha, I didn’t know. I just realized before I left the house that I had two copies on my bookshelf and thought that you might enjoy having one to read.”

Then, as she gave me a quick hug, I looked upwards and thought, “Lord, this is your doing. Thank You for the grace to be more encouraging today and thank You for Your generosity and affirmation for doing the right thing.”

I can’t make this stuff up, folks. God is good and He must chuckle to Himself when He shows His love to us in surprising ways such as this.

“Good and gracious God, thank You once again for Your great love and generosity. You never fail to deliver in surprising ways. You encourage us to keep our eyes, ears and hearts open looking for the God-moments that You bring. Amen.”

(God Returns Our Generosity, was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

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