07 November 2021, 32nd Sunday in the Ordinary Time
Mk 12: 38-44
Last week, we offered our donations, either in cash or in kind, to the Church for the eternal repose of the souls of our beloved dead. Minutes from now we will offer our gifts, either in cash or in kind. But when can we claim to ourselves that our generosity is authentic and radical? Before we do our own self-examination, the readings of today reveal how God looks at us.
First, God looks at our hands. In giving, God does not measure quantity but the quality. The 1st Reading and Gospel have something in common: a poor widow. Usually, we think that the poor have less or have nothing to give. Because of their social status, they are oftentimes considered as a problem, even referring to them as palamunin, pabigat at pabuhat. But in my experience, most of those who are generous in the Church are the poor. Yes, they give little but they are faithful in giving. Ginagmay basta kinasingkasing ug kanunay.
And so, are the poor a problem? God tells us that the poor are never a problem. In the readings, God has high regard of them. Why? The poor widows, even if they have less in life, they give more for God. The poor never gives what is their excess but what all that they have. Poverty can never be an excuse. No one is so poor that one cannot give; no one is so rich that one can receive.
Second, God examines the heart. What’s in the heart of these two poor widows? In the 1st Reading, the widow in Zarephath, in the midst of famine and scarcity, obeyed to the words of the prophet Elijah who said to her, (1) do not be afraid, (2) go and do as you propose and (3) the Lord will never allow your jar of flour to be empty. In the Gospel, Jesus was looking at those who were giving donations to the treasury of the temple. But among those who gave, Jesus noticed that the poor widow “put in more” for the temple. Why? Because even if she’s poor, she never hesitated to give her all to God.
These two poor widows never hesitated to give all that they had because they trusted in Divine Providence. Both readings end, not with death in the midst of scarcity, but plenty. When we trust in God’s providence, we will be secured by His love that is so lavish. Those who are really generous are not those who give much but those who truly trust in God’s love.
Third, God looks our minds if we have good intentions. “How much” we give does not necessarily point to “why” we give. Sometimes we give because we want to impress but actually, people do not know that they are our excess. Sometimes, when we give a little even if we have the capacity to be magnanimous, we’d rationalize by saying, “Anyway, God understands.” How do we know God’s mind if we do not open our hearts to Him who is always present among the poor? Many also think that if we give much, we will receive much from the Lord. We deal God like a tit-for-tat!
The tendencies to be selfish and self-referential are still present. But God wants to free us from toxic greed. That is why, in the 2nd Reading, Christ teaches us to move from being selfish and self-referential to becoming selfless. How? Even if He is God, Christ Jesus emptied Himself by offering His life to God for the forgiveness of sins and our salvation. If we think less of ourselves, our hearts are open for God and our hands will give, not with our excesses that impress, but blessings. How can we be blessings to others? How can we develop radical generosity?
One, think that we are blessed. God is so lavish that He gives us the best even if we do not deserve them: life, relationships, education, health, healing, food, shelter, work, talents and skills. They are not in a form of a money but they can never be quantified. When we are aware that God is so generous to us, we cannot but be generous to others as well. Indeed, people who are truly blessed are blessings to others.
Two, learn to trust day by day. If we have trust in Divine Providence, we discover that God can never be outdone in His generosity: siksik, liglig at umaapaw. Trust is not just a nice feeling. It is a conviction that God cares and sustains by providing us with all our needs in life. If we are afraid to let go, to give and to share, change that fear into trust. For those who believe and are willing to give are truly rich in the eyes of God.
Three, give thanks. Oftentimes, we give something to God because our intention is to give Him thanks. As the song says, “Give thanks with a grateful heart… to the Holy One… because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son.” But our Thank You’s should not remain in words. Our gratitude should become our attitude. Hence, our thanksgiving becomes our thanks-living. If we are thankful to God, give. It is painful to give for something part of us is gone. Yes, but there is something wonderful that takes place. That part of us that we share becomes part of the other. Thanks-living is not a mutual exchange of gifts but a continuous process that ends in the Ultimate Giver, God. All belongs to God.
There was a man who found a diamond. He kept it a for a long time. But one day, while walking in the forest, he met a young boy who was looking for a benefactor who could support his studies. Instead of saying to the boy, “Let me be your benefactor”, he willingly gave to the boy the diamond. The boy jumped for joy! This event became so popular. People were looking for that man. Until one day, a young lady met that famous man. He asked her, “Do you want that huge diamond that I used to own? I gave it.” The lady said, “I am not looking for the diamond. I just want that heart of yours that is willing to give.”
True riches are not found in having much. Those who give from the heart are truly rich. We are blessed. Learn to trust. Give thanks. Amen!
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