Taste and See: buy without money

 

Saint-Ignatius-Loyola

The first reading for the 18th Sunday of the year, comes from the prophet Isaiah. It sets before us a wonderful prospect of plenty, available to all who have need.

Thus says the Lord:
Oh, come to the water all you who are thirsty;
though you have no money, come!
Buy corn without money, and eat,
and, at no cost, wine and milk.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
your wages on what fails to satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and you will have good things to eat
and rich food to enjoy.
Pay attention, come to me;
listen, and your soul will live.
With you I will make an everlasting covenant
out of the favours promised to David.

Isaiah 55:1-3

The generosity of God is so clearly expressed in that passage.

Oh, come to the water all you who are thirsty;
though you have no money, come!
Buy corn without money, and eat,
and, at no cost, wine and milk.

And yet note that the Lord invites us to ‘buy’ not simply to ‘take’.

But to buy without money? It’s a strange phrase. What might it mean?

Perhaps this: The Lord gives freely. As we receive from him so we are able to give in return. His gift enables our gift.

Our gift is not entirely gratuitous, not like God’s. It is only made possible for us because of his first loving acts of Creation and Redemption. And yet it is our gift, for by his graciousness we have something to exchange, with which to buy, to deepen our relationship, to acknowledge our absolute and radical dependence on the grace of God.

Just such a reciprocal act of love is described powerfully in the Suscipe, the prayer of St Ignatius of Loyola.

Take Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will, all that I have and possess.
You have given all to me.
To you, O Lord, I return it.
All is yours, dispose of it wholly according to your will.
Give me your love and thy grace, for this is sufficient for me.

Ignatius Loyola

There is a much liked setting of this song by the St Louis Jesuits.

Image of St Ignatius is taken from here.

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