You Only Can Give What You Have

Nemo dat quod non habet, is the famous Latin saying which means: “No one gives what he does not have.” So true, indeed! Orange fruit can only give orange juice and not mango juice. You can only spend $10 if that is all you have. Well, the invention of credit cards makes us think and even believe we can spend more than we have. But the math quickly shows the result, and it is called DEBT! To be in debt means one has spent what one does not have. When persons or a nation is in so much debt, it means they have, perhaps, disregarded this basic and commonsense truth that does not need too much explanation.

This truth is not only felt in economic or financial mismanagement; it is also felt in our interpersonal relationships, our relationship with God, and in the management of our personal truth. We bring to every situation what we have within ourselves: if we have love, we bring it; if we have joy, forgiveness, understanding and empowerment, it is those we bring to bear in our encounters and in life situations. If we carry more negative energy: despair, pessimism, uncaring attitude, self-centeredness, greed, avarice, arrogance – it is those we will bring to bear in our encounters.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan is so famous beyond the Christian circles because it addresses so clearly the important question of human relationship and how every human heart can be open to or closed to relating to another person. It makes a profound and sweeping claim: every human being in need is my (your) neighbor. But, depending on what we have inside of us, we can respond towards or away from the person in need. A loving heart will always see love around and a self-centered person will always see himself and others serving him. A forgiving heart will always seek ways to forgive and make room for forgiveness; an arrogant and narcissistic person will see forgiveness as weakness and unacceptable; a person who believes that all persons are children of God, will reach out to anyone in trouble, but the one who classifies human beings as more or less of children of God, will definitely act accordingly.

It is interesting that the Priest and the Levite were those who did not see a neighbor in this person beaten to death. These two persons represent the worship of God in Judaism. The priest is one who offers sacrifice and occupies a significant place in the Jewish religion. The Levite is like the altar server, who is second in rank to the priest. These two groups are seen as closest to God because they are consecrated to serve God in the temple and facilitate people’s worship of God. Yet, the story of Jesus shows that these two groups are the farthest away from the heart of God. The stranger, the Samaritan, considered an impure person, is closest to God’s heart of love than those who work in the temple. Jesus affirms strongly by this story that only love expressed in concrete action, counts and reflects God’s heart. It is not enough to feel sorry or pity for someone in need; that doesn’t do anything. It is more important to act when and how you can. But it all depends on what you have inside you. That is why, we pray always that God changes our hearts so we can feel as He feels and so be as loving as He is. I pray we grow in this love as individuals and as a community of God, a community of love, healing and holiness. Amen