I am not really a selfish person. When asked to give, I usually give rather freely of my time, talent and treasure. When there is something meaningful or an important task to be done, I am usually among the first to stand up and volunteer.
But I feel deep inside me that I am not a totally generous person either. When giving I tend to keep the last peso or dollar for myself, sometimes afraid of ending up with nothing for myself. Or when volunteering for good, I ask in the back of y mind, “What’s in it for me?”
I have worked with two great persons in the past. And I have seen these tendencies well up in me while working with them. I was not at all happy.
Fr. Abesamis was an inspiring teacher. He showed and taught me in the gospels while reading the current events of the day. He inspired me to work for the liberation of the poor and the oppressed, for the upliftment
of the last, the lost and the least of my brothers. It meant giving up everything to be unencumbered for the task ahead of us. I wavered and finally walked a separate way. But Ray and Joe and Martin walked with him and they are all gone.
Dr. Bengzon was an inspiring boss and he would often take us on flights of fancy on what and how we can do nation-building in his sessions and talks with us. I was inspired no end to do what I could to make a difference in Philippines society. It meant giving up working for my own career. “What’s in it for me?” kept playing in my ear like a cacophonic earworm. In the end, I walked a separate way.
Still, I am not overly attached to material things and I can give them away easily. In my twilight years, I have become even less attached to possessions. I have not had difficulties simplifying my life for I did not have a lot to really give up. But the recent event is my life have told me again that I still have to learn how to truly generous: to be able to give even when there is no more to give, to give without counting the cost, to give without asking for a reward, to give and not ask for rest.
“Lord, teach me how to be generous.”