Collaboration 2: Service


Can you be content with what you have to give?
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Transcript of Video:

I honestly believe that we’re called to collaborate with God in forming the community. The one that is all of creation. But we do it in the ways that each of us has a spark, a desire for forming community. Look for opportunity for service of whatever kind. You know, it may not be saving the world or eliminating hunger single-handedly or poverty, but rather a particular need at a particular time.

There is the disciple who talks about a young man be availed, I think it’s Andrew speaks to Jesus, at the time when he’s in the wilderness with all these people and they’re not all Israelites. They’re just people who have come because they’ve heard of Jesus. And Jesus says, “You know, you give them something, you need to give them something to eat.” Rather than being flummoxed like some of the others, this Andrew said, “Well, there is somebody here with these five loaves and two fish.” Offering what we have without a kind of fear that it won’t be enough. It’s a giving of ourselves when the situation presents itself. You know, it’s not about some kind of you’re being asked a mystical trick question. But rather knowing what we have and being willing to hand it over. I think that’s a handing over of one’s life as well or even to perhaps to look foolish by the offer that we make.

– Br. Jonathan Maury


  1. fred on April 8, 2014 at 15:28

    Thank you so much for this seed for meditation. Your comments speak to me on such a personal level when I’m criticizing myself for not directing a larger “better” choir, as well as other issues (not space enough here). I want to do more, but the gifts I’ve been given are being used for a higher purpose than mine (I hope and pray) here. Thank you again, Bro John. These things sustain me.

  2. Ruth West on April 7, 2014 at 21:33

    Thank you, Brother, for this important and always timely message.
    As an elder on a fixed income, I am unable to give as I once could, but I know that as the widow, who gave her mite, I, too, can give what I have. I think the tithe should be top priority. The church must continue in its mission.
    I am bombarded with requests for money. It is hard for me to say no, but I cannot respond positively to every request, and those to whom I give cannot get more than a few dollars. Also, I have learned that many of the soliciters are not totally honest. Even though I know God looks at the heart of the giver, it is imperative that we not squander the loaves and fishes. I learned recently that one of the most popular veterans organizations use 75% of their collections on pro-
    motional ads. The wounded vets get only 25%.
    May God lead us in discerning what is good in His sight.

  3. Sr. Donna Morgan on April 4, 2014 at 13:24

    I think Br. Jonathan hit the nail on the head. What we can give and when we can give it and the willingness to give it. The deeper/closer relationship we have with God, the more we give out of love, which is how he interacts with us.

  4. Jane on April 3, 2014 at 22:03

    Thank you for helping me prioritize what I need to….but I wonder if there will ever be a day when I can be content w the gifts I have to give.

  5. Beth on April 3, 2014 at 20:52

    Both! I desire to give more, i wish for more to give. At my age I also have to realize my limitations, sometimes I “stretch” myself, and the next day take a nap!!!

  6. LindaR on April 3, 2014 at 16:03

    I’ve been trying to figure out how to cope with wanting to do much more than I actually can do right now. Thank you, Br. Jonathon, for pointing out that part of the loaves and fishes story is the willingness to risk looking foolish for having so little to give. By itself, a small gift is simply a small gift, but with God’s grace and sometimes joined with the gifts of others it can become enough. This fits with something my priest told me when I was a teen. He said he wanted to give me the gift of “YET”, a very important word to get into the habit of adding to self-doubting comments in my head, especially, “I can’t…yet” and “I don’t know how… yet”. So maybe I need to work on being more willing to risk giving and doing what I currently can, while also praying and trusting God to help me live up to the “yet” that can grow with increasing understanding and abilities.

    • Margie Faulkner on April 4, 2014 at 10:30

      What a beautiful way to put this Linda. I too always think I don’t have enough but I’ve learned that it is not monetary that is needed. I have to continue to realize that if all I have to give is myself that is a good thing too. I try to do this daily with His help. Thank you for your thoughtful post.

  7. Gayle on April 3, 2014 at 13:49

    This message is sweet medicine for me. I tend to feel that whatever I give/do is just nothing at all compared with what I want to give/do. I don’t feel that I ever could be satisfied with what I have to give.

  8. Jane Anne Gleason on April 2, 2014 at 16:41

    I have difficulty being satisfied with what I give. I am often left with the felling that I should and could do more. This is an issue I have struggled with since my teen years and now 40 years later still have to remind myself to put thing in God’s hands and allow Him to both guide me in my desire to do/give and turn the thing I can not give.

  9. Deacon Susan in California on April 2, 2014 at 12:28

    For me it is helpful to assess regularly precisely how I am giving of myself. My personality type is one that can segue easily from one type of giving ministry to another, and I must try to stay steady and committed if there is to be any lasting benefit to others and contentment for myself. I do not write any cheques to any appeals that come in the mail; that would be be a frittering away of my interests and resources.

  10. TM on April 2, 2014 at 09:17

    In past years, I’ve thought a lot about giving time, talent, and treasure to God. Some times I’ve been better about it than others. I’ve given much of my time and talent at times, but I’ve pulled back since taking on a major role that didn’t go well. The role was not a good fit, but at least I tried it. I’ve thought of trying again in smaller roles, but that T word – time- always gets in the way, especially since my son is older and more involved now and we have no neighbors or family to help us out. I am eager to help again, but the pieces need to fall into place first, I guess.

  11. Pamela P. on April 2, 2014 at 08:40

    That is beautiful, Jonathan. So simple and easy to do. I knew it but will remember it better in the context of your words and SSJE.

  12. Marilyn Weir on April 2, 2014 at 08:00

    It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the world problems of hunger, hatred and violence, overpopulation, climate change, etc., etc. But I know I can’t solve these problems. I do try to focus on what can I do? I try to stay aware of what is happening directly around me with the people I am immediately in contact with at the moment, whether I know them or not. One project I am participating in now is making scarves for the Boston Marathon runners. They are being sent to the Old South Church to be blessed and handed out on marathon day. I know the scarves I am offering will bring comfort to runners that day – people I will not meet. It’s one small thing I can do.

  13. Elke on April 1, 2014 at 20:21

    I keep thinking about the “somebody” in the Gospel story, who, when asked, hands over his five loaves and two fishes, just like that, not more, not less.
    The striking part is that he stays in the situation with Jesus and the crowd, and before his eyes, grace multiplies his gift.
    It’s a wonderful example for me to simply give what I have in any particular moment, and to let Jesus bless the gift in the way he sees fit.
    Then, everyone is blessed! I want to remember that.

    • Margie Faulkner on April 2, 2014 at 10:53

      What a wonderful way of putting it and giving others positive ideas on what they have to give. It does not matter the amount. Give whatever with the right heart and Jesus will do the rest. Thank you for your insight.

  14. Dorothy Brown on April 1, 2014 at 17:18

    for most of my life I felt that I had nothing worth giving. It wasn’t until getting into a 12-step program and learning about how God saved me, that I began to suspect there might be something about me worthwhile. Now I sponsor girls who need help, give of my time, and share “how it was, what happened, and how it is now”. So I can now say that I am content with what I have to give, because it is all that I am.

    • Melinda on April 5, 2014 at 10:38

      I too learned in a 12 step program that I can only give away what I have (money, time, energy, experience, strength, hope, etc). When I go beyond that it is based on ego (edging God out) and is not honest. Striving for the wisdom to know the difference 🙂

  15. Janice Schuyler on April 1, 2014 at 16:48

    Jonathan, your words helped me today. This month I celebrate my 72nd birthday, and I finally am beginning to admit that I do not have the stamina I had when I was younger. I am still very active, but I underestimate how tired I will become if I over do it. That image of the boy with the few loaves and fishes, and his willingness to give what he had is one that can help me when I need to limit, say no, etc. It will be okay for me to give what I have to give at 72. Blessings on you and SSJE.

  16. MRM on April 1, 2014 at 15:28

    A difficult question that has chased me in circles as I I read through what others have already written. I want to say that I am content with what I can give – indeed, I know that I have been richly blessed, but I am not content with what I actually give – I fear I am holding back to much to meet my own needs and desires. At what point does castigating myself for not giving enough become dissatisfaction with what I am able to give? When is a failure to give selfish and lazy as opposed to having nothing to give, at the moment. I’m stuck in this self serving loop. and can’t find God here. Next question.

  17. Michael Kolenick on April 1, 2014 at 15:10

    I believe that I am content with what I give to others. I offer volunteer service in my community, I perform lay Eucharistic ministry through my parish church, as well as my participation in other church ministries. However, I am always open to new opportunities to give of myself to others.

  18. Leonard on April 1, 2014 at 14:34

    Being content with giving of what I can, or doing what I am able is sometimes hard for me to discern. I think we all have times when the desire to excel takes over and the need to do more than is fitting in the situation causes us harm. I try too hard sometimes asking more of myself, more than others need or expect. The remedy is to remember that God has given me everything I need to offer for the building up of His kingdom. In knowing this, I believe I find the place of greater peace. When I see that there are things I cannot do, I remember that we are created with different talents and abilities. The graceful thing is to step back and allow room for others.

  19. Martha on April 1, 2014 at 14:22

    I’m becoming wiser I believe about the value of doing what I can with what I have yet trying to keep some bold visions. This morning, I advised a student in my advocacy course who is a citizen advocate deeply concerned about homeless elders in her urban low income community.She wants to make a difference. After much research and interviewing homeless elders living on the streets, she’s frustrated what to do. I suggested take on the most important need the homeless expressed – a bed and a roof over their heads which they can stay in day after day and don’t have to leave. Food next and medical care can wait they say. She’s going to focus on what can be done for one, two and maybe three homeless in her community. not the whole population.

  20. Marianne on April 1, 2014 at 13:21

    It’s hard not to want to do it all, especially if you feel you can do whatever it is better than somebody else – but that’s very ego-centric. I’ve needed to learn to let go, that I can’t do everything – to know that I’m not the only one and that others will step in and do whatever it is. To trust God, in other words. That’s hard for me, but I think I’m getting better at it.

  21. John Okerman on April 1, 2014 at 12:50

    I am content with what I have to give but know I can always give more. That is I can always give more of my time, my talents, and my money!! I work with non-profit organizations and realize how great the needs are in many areas! I work with United Way and solicit money during employee giving campaigns. When employees ask how much should I give I tell them to give what makes you feel good about your gift. It should not be out of sense of guilt but out of a sense of caring! If everyone gives something that adds up to a large amount. At United Way over 75% of the monetary gifts come from “everyday” donors, not the rich or the large corporations.

  22. Denise Schroeder on April 1, 2014 at 12:26

    Yes, giving freely of what has so freely been given to me. I am so grateful for all I have and it is truely a blessing to share that with others.

  23. Lorna Harris on April 1, 2014 at 12:11

    Such a difficult question. how to avoid false humility – how can what I give ever be enough etc. etc.
    Yet, truth be told, I am not content with what I give. I could do better.

    • MRM on April 2, 2014 at 17:33


  24. Annette Foisie OSL on April 1, 2014 at 12:02

    Ephesians 6:13 includes these wise words: “having done all, to stand.” You have done all you could; leave the rest to God.

  25. Susan on April 1, 2014 at 12:00

    I can be content with what I have to give, but many times I am not. I feel inadequate. I feel that others will not approve of what I do or give. Yet I know that God has given me many talents and abilities to use for His service.
    My prayer is to be open to using my talents to serve.

  26. Pam on April 1, 2014 at 11:28

    With God it’s always enough. Wondering or fearing that our gift or contribution isn’t great enough leads right down the road to judgment–comparing, cataloguing, measuring. We do what we feel called to do, and God makes up the difference. That yields blessings for the person or persons to whom we give as well as to ourselves.

    • Brenda on April 1, 2014 at 12:14

      Well said Pam! Thank you!

  27. Tammy Lee on April 1, 2014 at 11:21

    “All we ever have is what we give away ” said the young nun to her novice mistress as she pinned these words in caligraphy upon a card…..and what we give away comes first from God who entrusts it to us…..this has been an aspect of stewardship that I know to be true but have a hard time embracing since I always think its mine first….I wonder how I would feel about my resources if I really believed I held them in trust from God ….that they were communal instead of individual….I love the idea of that….my guess is I would like it less if I brought more to the table that I had to let go of and like it more if I had less to give and therefore would benefit by what was coming from others……………..I would find it freeing to know that I had given away everything I possibly could…..somehow it would free me to be in relationship with instead of having my possessions elevate me above or separate me from….when I stay at the monastery it takes me five minutes to tidy my room reminding me how very little I really need and how much energy goes into taking care of “stuff” on a daily basis….some saint said….” the coat that remains unworn in your closet is the coat for the man who is cold….the unworn shoes for the man who is barefoot on the corner….I am not content with what I have to give….I think I need to be challenged to let go of more and more trusting that with God I will have enough ….and I need to be challenged to allow God to use what is there instead of assuming that what is there isn’t enough to meet God’s need because I determined it wasnt enough…..

  28. Gloria Veltman on April 1, 2014 at 11:17

    For me this is a work in progress. I have been a tither for nearly fifty years but I am frequently frustrated by not having more to give outside the church to the many worthy causes & interests I would like to support. If I wait until I have $25 or $50 to give, it may not get done, & $10 hardly seems worth the postage & the bookkeeping on the receiving end. One thing I have been doing for awhile now is shopping the 10 for $10 grocery sales & giving from that to the pantry at church. For instance, 5 cans of stewed tomatoes when I buy 10 or a bag of potatoes when they are 2 for $5. I keep looking for ways to give & get into a better balance.

  29. Cush on April 1, 2014 at 11:13

    It is hard for me to be “content” with what I have to give, it seems so small. I think I am getting better at the task of giving as much as I am able, but there is a nagging that perhaps I could give more. I have had to learn to accept my limitations (physically, financially and age) and accept that I cannot do what I used to, but that I can to the best of my ability do what I can to the glory of God.

  30. Casey on April 1, 2014 at 10:45

    I am reminded its not how MUCH you give but that you are giving. Boiled down to that essence, the enough part doesn’t play. I think the same is true of God…a steady flow of love.

  31. Mary Caulfield on April 1, 2014 at 10:27

    Coincidentally, a friend and I had a conversation about this over the weekend. I used to feel that I embodied the saying , “If you want something done, ask a busy person.” But I don’t feel as if my energy to give is as limitless as it once was – and there are some things that I can give from the heart, truly feeling that I am where I’m meant to be. Other causes, organizations, efforts I can support, pray for, buy a ticket – but I can’t always be the one everybody can depend on. That’s a loss of an old identity for me. But maybe being content with what I have to give is also a way to respect what others are giving, from their own limitations and gifts.

    • Tammy Lee on April 1, 2014 at 11:25

      very insightful…..particularly about respecting what others are offering when we step back and let go of that need to be seen as the one who steps up to the plate…..

  32. Virginia on April 1, 2014 at 10:01

    Today the message really touched me. I have always felt inadequate, that I do not have enough to give, or that what I have to give will be rejected by others. I now see that God is telling me that I have what is needed- myself. In being fully present for the person who is hurting or has something he/she feels important to share, I am building community. Thank you so much.

  33. Jennie M Anderson on April 1, 2014 at 09:59

    Yes, giving what I can and have that be enough… it is good soul work for me. I often feel that I “should” be giving more. When, if I relax and give out of my abundance, and join with other’s gifts, there is a true opportunity for celebration. Just for today, I will let what I have to give be enough, and even a cause for celebration.

  34. gwedhen nicholas on April 1, 2014 at 09:57

    For years I kept pondering about what I could be; someone special and different from the person I was. In the last little while I have begun to accept who I am and be content with that. I don’t have to be a doctor or a great musician. I don’t need to be someone different than God created me to be. I can just be who God created me to be. If I give this back to God as an offering, and trust in Him, then I can be like Jesus and the feeding of the five thousand. The little I have can, through God, be made into an abundance, and help many people. So I think I can say that I am content with what I have to give.

  35. Ray Gaebler on April 1, 2014 at 09:49

    This is a very wise response to a question we all face when confronted with the overwhelming pain we frequently inflict on one another. As each of us contributes our own inadequate gifts God can join them together to make them adequate.

    • Eva on April 2, 2014 at 07:18

      Thank you for this last thought. God is the one who combines our individual undertakings to meet the needs of His world. He is the one who sees the whole picture. I’d forgotten about this until I read your comment. It takes away a lot of pressure!

  36. Win on April 1, 2014 at 09:44

    Such an interweaving between yesterday’s meditation and today’s! I’ve found for myself when I am most giving of myself I don’t notice time passing, and that doesn’t seem to be something I can create for myself. It truly is a gift. I don’t notice that I am contented – I just am. When I find myself striving for that place there is usually some ulterior motive behind the service – some sort of seeking of recognition or solace and then of course all that contentment vanishes. I love the admonition Jesus gives of not letting my left hand know what my right hand is giving/doing! Those times when I just get lost in what I’m doing are precious. Then I don’t even notice or care how foolish I might look!

  37. Christopher Barnhart on April 1, 2014 at 09:39

    Giving in Love of one’s time, talent and tresure is always acceptable in God’s sight.

  38. Michael on April 1, 2014 at 09:35

    The key here is when I don’t think that what I have to offer is sufficient or worthy enough (when it is sufficient or worthy enough, I usually have no problem in offering it!).

    This question leads me to consider more the effect of my offering in the life of the person I am offering it to, rather than in my own life. I might not think it’s good enough, but it may be exactly what that person needs at that time. And that is love and grace.

    • Lorna Harris on April 1, 2014 at 12:13

      good point!

  39. Kathleen Sheehy on April 1, 2014 at 09:16

    If I am not content with what I have to give, then what am i saying about God and how He made me, who He made me to be? Am I saying to Him, “I don’t think I’m enough”? This comes at a good time for me because I’ve just been grappling with a couple of challenges: comparing myself with other, “more talented” people, and experiencing the loss of potential of a group I was once part of. Trusting that God can and will continue to manifest Himself through who I am and who we are is the grace I need today and every day. Thanks, Brother Jonathan.

    • gwedhen nicholas on April 1, 2014 at 18:10

      yes, it is so easy to look at others and feel inadequate. But it is so important to not insult God by thinking we are not exactly what God wants us to be, and that that is enough. Thank you Kathleen

  40. Kathryn on April 1, 2014 at 09:07

    I have recently found what actually “ingrates a spark in me” and am always searching for ways to use it in service. It is incredibly gratifying!

  41. Joanne Wilson on April 1, 2014 at 08:36

    I remember well the pepto bismo, ginger ale and toast you brought to my guestroom at the Monastery,10 years ago when I was ill….loaves and fish for me.

  42. Julie Watt Faqir on April 1, 2014 at 08:23

    Recognizing that giving does not merely require giving actual “things” is one of the most freeing experiences. So yes. I can and am content with what I have to give. My time, my friendship, my love.

  43. kc on April 1, 2014 at 07:58

    I meant to add: how do we shut out the noise and give as we are able?

  44. Christopher Epting on April 1, 2014 at 07:58

    Like most bishops, one of the early things I had to learn and accept was that I would never be “up to the task.” The demands and expectations are always far more than we can fulfill. So, it has been a lifelong learning process to begin to “be content with what I do have to give” and to know that others will join in making their own self-offering and to hope that is enough.

    • Tammy Lee on April 1, 2014 at 11:34

      Thanks for that insight. I have spent the past year (after twenty one years in the priesthood ) trying to relearn what enough means in just about every category…..there is always someone or something whose needs or wants legitimate or otherwise have not been met by me….I have allowed my priestly value indeed my value period to be shaped by whether I have met those expectations always assuming that their needs were God’s demands as well…trying to discern now the difference between the two is my spiritual work……appreciate your candor as you follow your own call.

      • Christopher Epting on April 1, 2014 at 16:12

        Sounds like important spiritual work, my friend. I will hold you in my prayer.

  45. Margie Faulkner on April 1, 2014 at 07:55

    I believe we should be content with what we have to give and definitely give all we can. But having said that I believe that we should give ALL we have to give. The more I give of myself the more Peace I feel and the more I’m able to give. Now if we are talking monetary I have not much to give. I give all in His name and I pray that giving of myself takes over for the monetary value some may be able to give. We all have different gifts to offer. We should be content with what He gives us and share it.

  46. kc on April 1, 2014 at 07:30

    The simple answer is that we have to be content with what we have to give because we haven’t any more. But feeling inadequate for an inability to do more is natural. We are reminded of that inadequacy every day, every time we walk down our streets, pick up the phone to a telemarketer, open up our mailboxes, even our emails.

    The question is nearly impossible to answer, phrased and discussed as it is. There are so many “hands” extended – Not-for-profits, the hungry, historical associations, doctors without borders, disease fighters, the homeless, beggars, schools, preservationists, presidential elections. After awhile one feels besieged by the requests. I recently telephoned one of the companies that had called me seven times already – an organization I realized that I knew after looking up this mysterious phone number. I told them that I was annoyed at the number of times they’ve called and to stop invading my spaced and asking me for money!

    You can see how the modern American dilemma is how to decide who is worthy because there are so many persistent and Impersonal requests. They all want money. We are besieged.

    Giving and sharing are traits of being a community and so being human and surviving. There’s just not room enough for everybody. Hence the cacophany of “beggars” and “solicitors.”

    • Christopher Epting on April 1, 2014 at 07:55

      I guess I didn’t perceive “giving what you have to give” as being about money, but about ourselves, giving of what we have in ourselves to God and to others.

      • MRM on April 1, 2014 at 15:06

        money is one of the things we may have to give, and it never seems enough; and it is by no means the only thing . . . . I have to say from deepest heart, however inadequate we feel or resources seem, there is always “room enough for everybody” though it is true we can’t always find it.

  47. Br. Stephen Francis Arnold, OSB on April 1, 2014 at 06:57

    Mostly I can. Since God gives me what I have, it seems important that I give back and do it with gratitude.

  48. Carl Riedy on April 1, 2014 at 06:23

    Often, I am not content. While I have a sense of, and offer, my gifts and talents, lately I have asked: Should I be doing more? How can I do more? I think part of it is our culture. We are hardly ever satisfied. It is also a desire to be a better disciple, to do more in the hope of getting closer to Christ. The example of Andrew and the loaves and fishes might help me listen to The Lord and remember to act — to offer what have I every day to God no matter how small or mundane.
    Peace be with all of you.

  49. Jim on April 1, 2014 at 06:13

    I find the answer to this question to be situational. There are cases when I absolutely can be content with what I have to give because I know my limits in that area. Yet, there are times when I wish I could do more, that my finances or my situation were better so I could provide more assistance to others.

  50. Bob on April 1, 2014 at 03:19

    Mostly, but sometimes, I feel it is adequate. This is usually when it is inadequate – haven’t given of my all.

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