Dorothy Day has been called an American saint. She took her Christian faith right into the most dreadful slums of New York City in the 1930s. There she established the first Catholic Worker House, a place of radical Christian discipleship. That house became a place of hospitality for the down and out — for men Day later described as “grey men, the color of lifeless trees and bushes and winter soil, who had in them as yet none of the green of hope, the rising sap of faith.” Not long after, the Catholic Worker House began welcoming women and children as well.
One day, a wealthy socialite pulled up to the house in a big car. She received the obligatory tour of the mission from Day herself. When she was about to leave, the woman impulsively pulled a diamond ring off her finger and handed it to Day. The staff was ecstatic when they heard about this act of generosity. The ring, they realized, could be sold for enough money to take some pressure off the budget, at least for a while.A day or two later, though, one of them noticed the diamond ring on the finger of a homeless woman who was leaving the mission. Immediately, the staff members confronted Day. Why, in heaven’s name, would she just give away a valuable piece of jewelry like that? Day responded: “That woman was admiring the ring. She thought it was so beautiful. So I gave it to her. Do you think God made diamonds just for the rich?”
As we move towards and beyond Easter, we are drawn towards the extravagant love of God. And not just in and through Jesus. Many Bible stories are premised in a love that gives with no expectation of return. The woman (or women? Different names in different gospels = many different events?) who pours out an extravagant gift of oil anointing Jesus with love and sorrow and hope for what may yet be. The Prodigal Son, which should really be called the Prodigal Parent for the forgiveness and love shown by the father.
There are many more of these stories in the Bible, but each and every keeps reminding us that God’s math is not our math. That true justice is not tit for tat. That real life is not measured by what we’ve brought in but that true beauty is found when we pour ourselves out. Sometimes our pour is well-measured and thought out. Sometimes it is impulsive and extravagant. Always generous. God made diamonds for everybody.