The Goal of the Spiritual Life

I sometimes lack a spirit of generosity.

I find it hard to give people the benefit of the doubt. I'm tempted to tell people what to think and how to behave. It's safer than allowing them to discover their own answers to the questions they have, answers that might challenge they way I think the world should be and my place in it.

In short, I don't want to let people to be themselves.

Generosity is more than giving. Rather, generosity is the act of making space for others. It is an act of hospitality, an act of welcoming others into our lives without conditions, without judgment, and without any motive other than love.

Perhaps that is the goal of a truly spiritual life: to learn how to be generous toward others, toward ourselves, and even toward God.

Center yourself by by focusing on the following mantra: Lord, enlighten the darkness of my heart. When distractions enter your mind, name that distraction then return to the mantra without judgment or criticism.

Read the Scripture verse to the right. Read it slowly, as if you were breathing it in. As you read it, settle in on one or two lines that speak to you. These might be lines that you might be drawn to or lines that evoke a strong emotion.

Meditate on these lines. What do they mean to you? Do they challenge you? Do they comfort you? Do they confuse you? What questions arise as you think about these lines? What answers are proposed?

Imagine you are talking to Jesus as one friend to another. What questions do you have for him? What answers does he provide? Take a moment and ask Jesus for whatever grace you need.

Rest in the presence of God for a few moments. You do not need to present yourself to God with pious words or petitions. There is no need to atone for anything. God is within you and surrounds you. Simply identify the presence and let your thoughts, feelings, and any other distractions melt away.

Finally, look toward tomorrow. What is Christ calling you to do? Who is Christ calling you to be? Make a resolution to be this person. Close with a simple Amen. 

The Laborers in the Vineyard

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you.  Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Matthew 20:1-16)

Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard  (1580-1590) by Martin van Valkenborch (1535-1612)

Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard (1580-1590) by Martin van Valkenborch (1535-1612)