Remember the fine print on boxes or bags of snacks? You don’t see it so much anymore–I guess we’re used to seeing half a package of air when we open something. But it would read something like:
This product is sold by weight and not by volume. Some settling of the contents may occur during shipping and handling.
Even as a kid, I realized that this was a lame attempt at heading off at the pass some disgruntled consumer who wanted a package full of snacks, not air. The disclaimer was never a good thing.
I was reminded of that bit of fine print this morning when I heard the Gospel.
Jesus said to his disciples, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.” (Luke 6: 36-38)
There’s no disclaimer in that Gospel, because God’s love and God’s gifts don’t come with a disclaimer. He doesn’t work that way.
If you bake, you know that weight and volume are not the same in terms of quantity. In fact, they can be very different. Depending on how much you “shake down” the cup of flour, you can get about another 1/4 cup in there. The same is true with brown sugar–“pack” it down and you can really increase the quantity. Too much (or too little) flour or brown sugar or any other ingredient can really mess up the finished product. That’s why expert bakers insist on measuring by weight rather than by volume.
It’s a good thing that God is not a baker, though, because Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel that God is not concerned by volume when it comes to love, mercy, forgiveness. He’s going to pack in as much as our cups can hold–and then some, until they are overflowing.
And all that is expected in return is that we try to do the same for the others we encounter.