What are the only words we have from Jesus that are not recorded in the Gospels? I mean words that He spoke while on earth (the Book of Revelation has plenty of words of Jesus from heaven). "It is more blessed to give than to receive." These words, which Saint Paul tells us the Lord Jesus said, have lately been, as it were, ringing in my ears.
We know that our own American culture of excessive consumption and consumerism makes it hard to grasp this truth. Yet how many of our youth and adults who go come on a mission trip are "transformed by the renewal of their minds" so as to powerfully experience the truth of just how much more blessed it is to give than to receive.
The prevailing culture here in the Dominican Republic in its own way also makes it hard to know the truth of Christ´s words on giving and receiving and thus to be set free by that truth. Certainly, this is due in part to a creeping consumerism that can make itself felt here even in the midst of relative poverty. But a greater reason would seem to lie in an attitude of excessive dependancy, which the Bishop and local church here have identified as a central problem.
On the one hand, putting myself in the shoes of my neighbor, I realize that genuine neediness makes it only natural to focus on what one can receive. It is in a certain sense easy for me to focus on giving when my own wants and needs are so well provided for. At the same time, the real neediness is sometimes exacerbated by a tendency to be closed in on oneself and one´s needs.
As for how to shift the focus of parishioners from receiving to giving, a powerful help surely lies in enabling them to have a mission-type of experience. I have already seen how the young people of the town of Pedro Santana love to go on mission to the poorer, outlying areas. Certainly this is in large part due to their desire to have a fun outing, just like Americans often go on mission trips with similar motives. But then God´s grace takes things in a different direction. Anyhow, I hope in the near future to facilitate more mission-trip experiences. At some point in the future, I would love to have a mission trip for Dominicans to Haiti, where I know they would be moved by the needs of their poorer brethren. All in God´s time, but in the meantime, I ask your prayers for this special mission intention--that those in the mission here can have more and better opportunities to experience the transforming joy of mission themselves, to taste and see the blessedness of giving.