We’re in the midst of a book study at St. Joseph’s on the book Free of Charge by Miroslav Volf.  I was reading the third chapter today, in preparation for Sunday, when I came across these comments:

If we take a closer look at our giving, we’ll probably be surprised at how many of our gifts are given… to ourselves.  We need friends in high places, so we find a way to invite them for dinner or do them a favor.  We want a car repaired speedily, so we bring a bottle of scotch to our local mechanic.  We hope to quiet the legitimate ire of our spouse after we’ve committed a small transgression, so we bring flowers or jewelry.  Such gifts are investments, and like all investments, we expect them to deliver returns–the bigger, the better. (p. 90)

This comment reminded me of this bit of the Gospel reading from a few weeks ago:

[Jesus] said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid.  But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.  And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous” (Luke 14:12-14)