32nd Sunday - Homily
If I were to ask you to think of someone who is an example of generosity – whether it’s someone in your family, or a friend, or someone you’ve read about – who would you think of? Is there a specific act of generosity that you might think of that stands out as particularly impressive or inspiring? Well, we hear of two examples of generosity in today’s readings: two poor widows. They have lost so much already –they’ve lost their husbands. And, they don’t have much in terms of money or things. And yet, the little they have, they generously give to others.
In the first reading from the first book of Kings, the poor widow and her son seem to be on the verge of death. They are running out of food, and maybe out of hope, too. Even in her poverty, the poor widow gives to the prophet Elijah the little food she has, trusting that he is a man of God. And, she is richly rewarded for her generosity, receiving far more food than she had in the first place.
In this passage from Mark’s Gospel, Jesus highlights the generosity of the poor widow. The rich are giving large amounts of money to the temple treasury, but she only gives a couple of coins…a couple of cents. But, Jesus says, ‘there! That’s generosity. She is giving all that she has’. Sure, the others give much more in terms of money, but she gives offers up more in terms of sacrifice. The others are giving from their surplus, but she gives all that she has. It is an example of giving when it hurts to give. It is a great example of generosity for us.
So, if each of us looks in the mirror, we ask, ‘am I an example of generosity? Do I generously give my time, talent, and treasure to God and to others?’ We can all be so protective of our time. Our time is very valuable to us. We spend so much time working and being busy that we want to keep the little free time we have to ourselves. But, again think of the widow from the Gospel- she only had a little bit of money, and she still gave the little that she had to others. There are so many here at St. Andrew’s who give the little free time they have to others – serving in the liturgy, as teachers, catechists, and coaches. But, there still is a need for more to give of their time. For example, we still need five coaches for basketball teams this year.
What about coming to Church: do we make coming to Mass “God’s time?” He has given us everything…He gives us 168 hours in the week, and only asks us to give Him one hour each week. Do we give Him that hour? Or, do we come late to Mass, and leave early? Do we really try to pray while we’re here, or do we talk and socialize during Mass, maybe even during Holy Communion? This is His time, not ours.
I have been extremely impressed with the amount of talent we have in our parish and school. So many people generously share their gifts with others, whether in the arts or athletics or education. They see that God has given them all of their gifts, and they give back to Him by sharing their talents with others.
A priest once said to me that if each Catholic were to give 3% of his/her income, Catholic education would be free. I guess we don’t even give 3%, because Catholic education is not free. The Bible says we should give 10%…what do we give? Again, God gives us everything. He gives us all of our income, and only asks for a fraction in return. If we are men and women of faith, we give generously to Him and His Church, and trust that ‘God will provide’. God knows we all have bills to pay, and we are to be wise in how we handle our money. But, He calls us to give generously, and to believe that He will provide for us.
Jesus uses the example of the woman from the Gospel to point to His own act of generosity. Just as she gave her whole livelihood, so Christ gave his whole life as an offering for us on the Cross. He continues to give us his life in the Eucharist. He gives us his life, his love, and his generosity. As we receive his Body and Blood in Holy Communion, may the Grace of this sacrament help us to be more generous. May it help us to be more generous in giving our time, our talent, and our treasure to others, and thus, to Almighty God.