Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time, November 7
Do We Find Excuses and Give God Our Leftovers? Or Do We Look to the Cross and Learn the Lesson of Selfless Giving Which Christ Jesus Has Given Us?
In today’s Gospel, our Lord comments on the faithfulness and selfless generosity of a widow, “…she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had…”
When I first looked at our Scripture Readings for today, they reminded me of a story which a friend had told me some time ago – a true story about generosity and selfless giving in the workplace – a story which makes our Readings for today both relevant and alive.
A co-worker had been in an auto accident. And, as a result, the injuries sustained kept this person out of work for several weeks. Prior to the accident, this same person had been able to survive financially, but without much room to spare, for the budget was very tight. Now, with the car totaled and the medical bills coming due, things were going to be much more difficult, if not impossible “to make ends meet.”
The office staff decided to collect donations to help offset some of the medical bills. Here is where we see the Gospel come alive! – As contributions started coming in, it became evident that the employees on the lower end of the pay scale were the ones who gave the majority of the money, while those in the upper tiers of the company – those whose salaries were considerably higher – hardly gave anything at all!
One employee even remarked that he had just gotten married and felt bad that he did not have anything extra to give, but he and his new bride had received a department store gift certificate worth a certain amount of money as a reception gift, and so he donated the certificate.
Today’s Readings – the widow from Zarephath whom Elijah the prophet had approached, and the widow who put two coins from her need into the Temple treasury in today’s Gospel – all speak about how the best gifts are the gifts of self!
God rewarded the widow in our First Reading for her selfless giving, even though it might mean certain death for her and her son, for “…the jar of flour did not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry.” And Jesus praised the poor widow in today’s Gospel who had put in only two coins.
To those around her, she was probably ridiculed for the little she contributed, but our Lord saw into her heart, and in her selfless generosity, Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.”
God is not asking that you and I give everything we have for the good of our fellow man, for many of us do have responsibilities to our families. We need to care for those we love by providing a roof over their heads; we need to feed and clothe them, and we probably have several bills each month about which we sometimes worry whether or not they will be paid on time.
The question that is posed to us in our Readings today is something much more profound, which I will address shortly.
Through our Baptism, we have been invited into the Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. And through this Sacrament of initiation, we are also invited to become co-heirs with Christ in the eternal reward which awaits each of us – who have opened our hearts to all that our Lord is asking of us on this side of Heaven.
And our Heavenly Father is asking each of us to look to the example which has been set for us by His Son. In the Letter to the Hebrews today, we read, “Christ did not enter into a sanctuary made by hands…but heaven itself, that he might now appear before God on our behalf.”
Christ set the true example of what selfless giving – the true giving of oneself – is all about, when He emptied Himself, setting aside the awesome nature of His Divinity, so that He could take upon Himself our human nature, with all of its weaknesses except sin, so that He could teach us about the profound wonder of the Infinite Love which God has for each and every one of us.
And in that Infinite Love, God sacrificed His only Son – Jesus’ act of total selfless giving of Himself – so that we may be reconciled to our Heavenly Father for all eternity, so that you and I, with a truly humbled and contrite heart, may share in the glory which is Christ’s.
So that profound question we find in today’s Readings is this – “Do we give to God with a selfless heart, or do we give God our leftovers?”
God expects each one of us to give back to the Body of Christ that which rightfully belongs to God from the beginning, for stewardship implies that we are caretakers, managers of those gifts which He has entrusted to us.
And to some, He has given more than to others – whether the gift be spiritual, financial or educational. What He does give, however, is not ours to keep or to call our own. For such a reckless attitude would be both blind and selfish, for it fails to recognize that all that we have is actually a gift – a gift over which we have stewardship!
In other words, the time, talents and treasures we possess is God’s investment in us, so that we may use our stewardship of these gifts as a means of being the extension of God’s Love here on Earth – in reaching out to help one another.
We live in a world today where hunger, homelessness and poverty is rampant in every country. It exists even in our own “backyard”. God gives us the means to eliminate this hunger. He gives us the means to eliminate the homelessness and the poverty.
All that we need to do is recognize that each of us, as His children, are called to be His voice, His Heart and His hands here in our own neighborhoods, in our own communities. We are each called to be the ministering Christ to all those who are disadvantaged, to all those who are the suffering Christ within our midst.
Stewardship DOES require that we leave our comfort zone! Stewardship of God’s gifts does entail some form of self-sacrifice. All we need to do is look to the Cross and recognize the ULTIMATE Sacrifice which Christ Himself made for you and me.
It is when we refuse to imitate the selfless nature of Christ’s Love, it is when we freely choose to live our lives in selfishness and self-centeredness – that we invite God’s displeasure upon ourselves. And we see this displeasure in our Gospel today.
Jesus is speaking to the crowds about the scribes who pride themselves with vanity and self-importance. This same message could be applied to many in today’s culture who think of themselves with pride and conceited self-interest, who end up looking down upon the poor and the weak with disdain and condescension.
“Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces, seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets. They devour the houses of widows…They will receive a very severe condemnation.”
Devouring “…the houses of widows…” means the same as ignoring and disregarding the plight of the poor and the hungry in our own midst!
Since all that we have is a gift from God – our family, our house, our cars, our jobs, our bank accounts, the clothes in our closets and the food in our pantries – all freely given to us out of God’s unfathomable Love which He has for you and me, it is important that we take note of what our Lord is telling us today!
Are we like the scribes in today’s Gospel? Or are we like the widows about whom we read today? Do we find excuses and give God our leftovers? Or do we look to the Cross and learn the lesson of selfLESS giving which Christ Jesus has given us?
As we look at our own journey of faith through this life, may you and I recognize that all we have has always belonged to God, and may each of us selflessly offer to Him our entire being, together with the gifts with which He has blessed us – our time, talents and treasures – so that He may use them as He desires, all for His greater honor and glory!
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- ’” (1 Kings 17:12)
- “Elijah said to her, ‘Do not be afraid…For the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour shall not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, until the day when the LORD sends rain upon the earth.’’” (1 Kings 17:13a, 14)
- “Many rich people put in large sums [in the treasury]. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.” (Mark 12:41b-42)
- “Calling his disciples to himself, [Jesus] said to them, ‘Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.’” (Mark 12:43-44)
- “In the course of [Jesus’] teaching he said, ‘Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces, seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets. They devour the houses of widows…They will receive a very severe condemnation.’” (Mark 12:38-40)
- “For Christ did not enter into a sanctuary made by hands, a copy of the true one, but heaven itself, that he might now appear before God on our behalf.” (Hebrews 9:24)
- “Blessed the one whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD, his God, [who] secures justice for the oppressed, who gives bread to the hungry…[The LORD] comes to the aid of the orphan and the widow, but thwarts the way of the wicked.” (Psalm 146:5, 7ab, 9bc)
- “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ (by grace you have been saved), raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:4-6)
- “Many are the troubles of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him from them all.” (Psalm 34:20)
- “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be firm, steadfast, always fully devoted to the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)
- “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 6:38)
- “And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17)
- “…Christ, offered once to take away the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to take away sin but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.” (Hebrews 9:28)
Prayer for the Day
“Lord, make me an instrument of Your Love.Anonymous
May I see each circumstance in my life
as an opportunity to grow in Your Mercy.
May I see my environment
as a place to grow in Your Peace.
“When I am tempted to become impatient,
help me to be patient.
“When I am tempted to become unkind,
help me to be kind.
“When I am tempted to become jealous,
help me to be tolerant.
“When I am tempted to become boastful or proud,
help me give You the glory.
“When I am tempted to be rude or selfish,
give me the gift of gentleness.
“When I am tempted to take offense,
help me to let go.
“When I am tempted to become angry with someone,
give me the gift of forgiveness.
“When I am tempted to become resentful,
give me Your power to love.
“All gifts and all charisms come from You.
All will one day come to an end,
with one important exception, the gift of love!
Help me to always love others as You love me. Amen.”