“She hath opened her hand to the needy, and stretched out her hands to the poor.”Prov. 31:20
Every verse in Proverbs 31:10-31 addresses a special quality of Godly womanhood. One verse, which we will focus on today (Prov. 31:20), is dedicated to generosity. Sacrifice is a key virtue in Catholicism, so it is only right that Catholic women should also be familiar with generosity, since sacrifice means giving up, and generosity is to be willing to give – the two go hand in hand! Sacrifice and generosity may seem pointless in a worldly sense, but for Catholics, to give is to imitate Christ, to sacrifice is to be united with Him on Calvary. Thus by generosity, God gives the soul the right disposition to take up our crosses and follow His Son.
Many times a Godly woman’s crosses are borne in the home, as we can see from the many verses in this famous passage of Scripture which are dedicated to home life. But the verse on which we are focusing speaks on a different level, a level outside of her personal life, a place of reaching out: “she…stretched out her hands.” While her home life is her primary concern, the Valiant woman also recognizes needs outside of her own domain and tends to them as best she can. This may mean helping a mother at church by watching some of her 5 little children who are all under the age of 7 so she can take care of the youngest (What girl wouldn’t love to sacrifice just a bit of time to play with little children?). Another example might be giving some portion of any earnings a girl or woman may receive to her parish, as parishes have a far greater ability to distribute money to where it can be best used to benefit those in need. Speaking of parishes, how about joining a program at your parish that works to benefit the parish or an outreach program that sends help to the local community? All of these are wonderful ways to practice generosity.
Keep in mind, Ladies, that while all these sorts of deeds are good in themselves, generosity in our actions must be the fruit of a healthy spirit of generosity. As the Apostle Paul said, “And if I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor…and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing” (1 Corinthians 13: ). Generosity begins in the soul, not in the hands. God gives us each different circumstances in which to live; we must be content with what acts of generosity are in our power and do them with all the love we can. If we try doing some generous deed far out of reach but ignore our neighbor nearby, we are not following the Holy Spirit’s promptings to generosity, but our own desires and pride. As God gives us certain circumstances, so also will He give us the grace to use those circumstances as opportunities to practice generosity if we only ask Him.
St. Philomena, pray for us!