Fr. Roger J. Landry
Espirito Santo Parish, Fall River
32nd Sunday of OT, Year B
November 12, 2000
1Kgs17:10-16; Heb 9:24-28; Mk 12:38-44
Today’s Gospel is more than about money. The old widow is more than a poster-girl for the grand annual collection. Rather, she’s a model of discipleship singled out by Jesus for her overwhelming generosity in response to God. As we see, she gave all she had to God. It’s in fact, a perfect follow-up to last week’s Gospel, about loving God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and your neighbor as yourself. It’s principally about generosity, and one of the things with which we’re least generous, sometimes, is our money.
Widow in first reading gave all she had to live on to the Lord in his prophet. She trusted in God. As Jesus would say later in the Sermon on the Mount, don’t worry about what you are to eat or drink. Your father in heaven knows you need these things. Seek first the kingdom of God and all of these other things will be given to you besides. She gave the prophet Elijah the last amount of food she had, but then the Lord fed her the rest of the way.
Jesus points out widow in the Gospel who gave two small copper coins, worth about a cent. Yet Jesus says she contributed more than all the others. Not about how much one gives, but how much one has left over. Early Church. Ananias and Sapphira. What would Jesus say about us when we put our envelope in the collection basket. It doesn’t matter what the dollar amount is. For some $5 would be an extraordinary sacrifice, for others $5 would be simply from our surplus wealth. Folks at ES are in general very generous, especially compared to other parishes in the neighborhood. But the situation in America is not so rosy. 1.4% nationwide. We get what we pay for. What one gives to the Church is not nearly as important for the Church’s finances as it is for the one giving, because it shows where one’s priorities are. Protestants, a few Catholics and tithing. Pilgrims to Rome. They’re among the happiest people ever, because you can never outgive God. MSM and Serra Club. Last $10 to homeless person. $74.27 bill. $75 check.
Time generosity — Some waste time. Others say they don’t have any time to waste. But too often we’re just adding things on our own into the day. How much time do we make for others, for our family, for God, for the things that really matter? Do we give merely of our surplus time? So many needs that so desperately need your time. Volunteering to teach CCD. Even if you’re busy, the Lord would single you out, like he did this woman. Time volunteering to visit the sick and elderly, write letters to the imprisoned. More important: time in prayer to the Lord. Would the Lord say, looking at our week, that we give very little? Fulton Sheen, in busy times, giving twice as much to the Lord. Appeal for English daily Mass.
Generosity ultimately with our lives — Money and time are just things we have. Neither is unlimited, but they’re just things we either make us of wisely or unwisely, generously or ungenerously. But they’re really only parts of us. Jesus calls us to more than that. He calls us to give of our selves entirely to him.
When Jesus was choosing his first apostles, he did not select, curiously enough, the most intelligent men he could find, the bravest, the toughest, the holiest, the most impressive candidates. He chose a bunch of simple, heavily-accented fishermen, a despised tax-collector, a zealot, a traitor and a few other relative nobodies in Galilee. He chose them for one reason: because, with the exception of Judas, they were willing to give everything they had to the proclamation of the Gospel, even their very lives in gruesome martyrdoms. Jesus wasn’t trying to put together a faculty. He wasn’t trying to put together a board of directors for a new enterprise. He was trying to build His Church. He chose those to whom God had given only pennies’ worth of talent in the eyes of the world, but those pennies were the ones that built His Church.
Even in our own century, St. Maximillian Kolbe, who was very talented.
Give ourselves entirely to him at work, at school, at home, really lay down lives for others, for him in others. This is what the saints did. They said God was first. As we heard last week, they loved with all their heart, mind, soul and strength. Not just part of it, but all of it. It’s a thing of love. We’re all called to lay down our lives for God. He’s not asking us to do anything he didn’t do.
Jesus gave *everything* out of love for us, even humbling himself to become our food under the appearance of mere bread and wine. He has asked us to follow him in like manner, giving totally of ourselves, dying to ourselves out of love for him and our neighbor so that he may live completely in us and bear fruit that will last. And hence today, in honor of His generosity and the loving widow’s, there will be a second collection. When in a few minutes those patens in the middle of the aisle are brought forward to be lifted up to heaven, please, brothers and sisters, place on them all you’ve got.