Bottom line: Like the splendid woman in today's Gospel, Jesus wants us to give all.
Last week we elected a new governor, president - and many other public officials. We Americans tend to have an inner conflict about our government leaders: a certain cynicism, but along with that pessimism a feeling that they are the ones who should solve our problems. I am not going to debate that, but as someone who has a public role, I know that people can often have unrealistic expectations. They can overestimate my power and underestimate their own.
Today's Gospel provides an antidote. For sure, you and I are little people - especially in comparison to a senator, governor or president. But Jesus tells us that even little people can do something great. He observes a widow place two small coins in the temple treasury. With a solemn, "Amen," he says, "this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors..." How can Jesus say that when she only dropped in a few pennies? It may have been a small amount, but as Jesus say, she gave from her poverty, "all she had, her whole livelihood."
I want to clarify something. I know that some of you get nervous when I talk about Stewardship. "Oh, no, Father is going ask me to tithe." Well, I am not going to ask you to give ten percent or even five percent. In Jesus' name I ask you to give what the widow did - everything!
It's not easy to give everything, but it bring joy. I have noted that we are born with different dispositions. You can see it when children come up for the offertory. In some cases they tightly hold onto the money. Their dad will first shake the child's arm, then will have to pry open the hand. I know how the child feels! Other children, however, come forward cheerfully - so happy to place an envelope or a dollar bill in the collection. And they would be even happier if they could give a five or a twenty!
In Spanish a generous person is called "esplendido." Splendid. Jesus wants us to be splendid people. I think of two of my nephews: Ben, who died on this day three years ago and Bob, who gave his life for our country in Afghanistan. I cannot judge their souls, but I know that - like many young people - they had a desire to be splendid people.
Yes, Jesus wants us to be splendid, but as we get older, it gets harder. We live in uncertain times and there is a tendency to pull back, to think about "me" and "mine." The widow in today's Gospel didn't think that way. She gives all. She is a splendid woman.
To hold back is foolish. One day we will give it all back. A heart attack, an illness, an accident and we will render everything back to the one responsible for all we are, all we have.
Why not do it now? I would like to help you. We made a Stewardship brochure for that reason. It says: God gives it all, then call us to share Time, Talent, Treasure. Read it slowly, then take a step. Like the splendid woman in today's Gospel, Jesus wants us to give all. Amen.
From Archives (Homilies for 32nd Sunday, Year B):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
Vegans for Food Equality (inspired by Catholics for Marriage Equality)
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MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru
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