I Kgs 17:10-16 Heb 9:24-28 Mk 12: 38-44
Dear friends! Mother Teresa told a story how one day she was walking down the street when a beggar came up to her and said, ‘Mother Teresa, everybody is giving to you, I also want to give to you. Today, for the whole day, I got only thirty cents (Rs 8). I want to give it to you’. Mother Teresa thought for a moment; ‘if I take the thirty cents he will have nothing to eat tonight, and if I don’t take it I will hurt his feelings. So I put out my hands and I took the money. I have never seen such joy on anybody’s face as I saw on the face of that beggar man at the thought that he too could give to Mother Teresa.’
Mother Teresa went on: ‘It was a big sacrifice for that man, who had sat in the sun all day long and received only thirty cents. It was beautiful. Thirty cents is such a small amount, and I can get nothing with it, but as he gave it up and I took it, it became like thousands because it was given with so much love. God looks, not at the greatness of the work, but at the love with which it is performed.
The readings today tell similar stories of generosity. Both concern two very poor people – two widows. In biblical times widows were among the poorest of the poor. The widow in the First Reading was a non-Jew, and she had a son to support. She was down to her last handful of meal and drop of olive oil. After that she and her child must starve. Yet, by sharing it with prophet, she has a never-ending supply of flour and oil. She represents those people, who, despite poverty and oppression, place all their trust in God.
We also come upon another widow in today’s Gospel. Jesus is sitting in the Temple with his disciples, in the area where people made donations to the Temple. Some would come with large sums of money and made sure that others would see them. The widow was a poor woman. She put only a few cents into the Treasury, but it was for her a huge sum of money. Perhaps she felt grateful to God that she was able to worship Him in the Temple and wanted to express her gratitude. Others would think that her donation was little. God’s son saw it as truly generous. She gave from what she herself really needed, but caring for God’s house meant more to her than her own needs. She gave all that she had and in turn she gained all she could aspire namely the richest blessing of the Son of God.
The point being made here is: It’s possible to give without losing. In fact, to give can be a way of gaining. Not to give can be a sure way of losing what we have. If you light a candle you can light a hundred candles from that original candle without it being diminished. It is able to share its light without losing its own. So there is a sense in which we can share what we have without being impoverished. In fact, we are more likely to be enriched in so doing. Of course, here we are not talking about material things. A teacher loses nothing of his knowledge by sharing it with his pupils. A mother loses nothing of her love by sharing it with her children.
We can share such tings s knowledge, love and peace with others without our own supply of these being in any way diminished. Giving liberates the soul of the giver. The giver is as enriched as the recipient. We see this in the case of the widows in both readings. When we give cheerfully, and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.
I’m so grateful to so many of you in our parish community who give your time, talent and treasure. Those are the three main areas of stewardship. To name a few: all the council members Pastoral, Finance, Ed. Com, building and ground committee, all the staff, CCD volunteers, All the ministers at the liturgy choir, altar servers, people who prepare funeral lunch in, all who help for the food pantry, homebound ministers etc. I don’t know what will be the nature of our parish community without your involvement. I thank also everyone, who financially contributes to our church.
At the same time it is sad note that it is the very same people again and again come forward to help. It is the same people who give generously. Others no matter how many times we hear the bible passage like today’s, doesn’t affect at all their life. Some listen and then forget altogether. I encourage many more new people to come forward and be involved in our church activities sharing your time, talents and treasure. A survey reveals while 44% of Baptists tithe, but 4% of Catholics do. Giving 10% of one’s income to the church and charities can be a frightening sum to consider. But those who do it testify that God has never let them down. Let us learn from the two widows in the scripture readings to share what we have whole heartedly. “When a man dies, he carries in his hands only that which he has given away.”