The Root of Stinginess

I encountered a man who was homeless while I was stopped at an intersection. I did what I normally do: I ignored him. I kept my eyes focused on the stoplight and even rolled up the windows. Out of sight, out of mind.

Then I remembered that I've been writing meditations about generosity all week. The hypocrisy was not lost on me, though I did a damn good job of disguising it with one rationalization or another--he already walked by, the light will change color any minute, someone else will help him, he'll just use it on drugs, etc.

There are many arguments to justify oneself when you do not give alms. ‘But what, I give money and then he spends it on a glass of wine?’ If a glass of wine is the only happiness he has in life, that is fine. Instead, ask yourself what you do secretly.
— Pope Francis

But the disguises didn't work. I recognized that I am called to generosity, that giving to someone in need is always the right thing to do.

I called the man over and handed him the money in my wallet. He was surprised and thankful.

Tonight, I think I will want to meditate on why I hesitated with my generosity. Perhaps those hesitations are pointing out attachments that prevent me from understanding others and showing them compassion.

Enter the presence of God. God is within you, around you, and for you. Allow your breath to become slow and easy. Let your body become relaxed and free. Watch your mind become calm and still.

Pray for freedom with this prayer or one of your own: Lord, let me see through your eyes, and not my own.

Identify a time when you lacked generosity. Maybe it was a moment when you withheld a kind word or deed. Maybe you were unforgiving. Maybe you didn't give someone the benefit of the doubt. If several moments come to mind, focus on the one that stands out from the others.

Bring to mind as many details as you can. Where were you? What were you doing? Who were you with? Focusing on the details of the situation will help you from judging yourself. Simply accept it for what it was.

Ask yourself, "Where did my lack of generosity come from?" Maybe it was fear, disgust, or some other reason. Keep asking that question until you get to what seems to be the root of your stinginess.

Continue to look at this root. Where does it grow in other areas of your life? How does it limit your ability to show compassion to others? To yourself?

Talk to Jesus about this as one friend to another. What would you like to say to him? What does he say to you? Hand this root to him. What is it like to be free of it?

Now that you are free of it, return to your moment of stinginess. How would you act differently? How will you act differently in the future? If you find it hard to surrender this root of stinginess, ask for the grace to be able to give it up.

Close with this prayer or one of your own,  Lord, free me from the root of my stinginess. Free me from those attachments that prevent me from showing love, mercy, and compassion to all creatures. Amen.