Generosity and Faith
A priest accompanied a convict to the electric chair. As they were walking, he was thinking what will he say to encourage and console a man about to die? Will he say – goodbye? Take care? Or see you later? The priest was at a loss for the right words to say.
Finally, as the convict got to the electric chair, the priest patted him on the shoulders and said: “more power to you!”
The point of this story is this: a generous heart will always have something to give – even just words of encouragement and cheer. The priest, in accompanying the dying man gave his time, his friendship and his presence.
Today’s gospel (Mark 12:38-44) is a lesson on generosity. It’s a true-to-life experience of Jesus. He saw a poor widow whom He made as model for generosity for she gave from her poverty.
The first lesson of the Readings is this: Generosity matters. God values a generous heart. Jesus saw many rich people give. But it was from their surplus, their extra. They shared from their abundance. They were just throwing away what they did not really need. It was mechanical act of giving.
Instead the widow showed her heart. Two copper coins. That’s what she gave. Very small. Almost nothing. Insignificant. Copper does not shine like silver or gold. If thrown to the treasury box, it does not make noise. Yet Jesus saw the sacrifice. She was giving from her need. Those two coins were her very life. She was giving her all; her everything. And God was quick to notice.
When we give even our little; if it comes from the heart and it comes with much sacrifice and tears, expect God to take notice and compensate. He will multiply your generosity because God loves a cheerful giver.
The second lesson is: Faith begets generosity. The 1stReading (1 Kgs 17:10-16) gives us a beautiful, concrete example. There was famine in the land of Israel. Prophet Elijah arrives in Zarephath and asks a favor from a widow: “Please give me water and bread.” The request might seem very simple. But in her context, it was not. It was hard and difficult because she was in a survival mode.
Water was scarce. Their rivers and wells were running dry. She was saving water. Perhaps they have not bathed for days. It might have been expensive to buy water. But she gave the prophet a cupful. She also gave him a little bread. In fact, she just had a handful of flour and a little oil in her jug. She was preparing her last meal – then fast for as long as the famine lasts.
But the prophet promised: God says “your flour and oil will not run dry.” And she believed. Imagine the miracle for one whole year! She was able to eat more than she expected – three meals and two snacks! She had unlimited supply of flour and oil from then on. She can’t explain it. It was just coming day after day.
Let’s not be afraid to be generous. Let us not be stingy with our help for God is a generous provider!
The third lesson is: Generosity is love in action. The two widows were generous because deep within their hearts they loved God. Both were able to make big sacrifices because of their great love. In the end, what really matters is not our sacrifice but our love. What makes us pleasing to God is the love that makes us endure, persevere and sacrifice.
If one has great love, one does not mind the hardship, the struggle or the sacrifice. Only those without love see the pain. They scream and complain because all is burden for one whose love is small.
Instead, the one who loves can even smile despite the pain. Love inspires them. They get love-struck. Love makes them invincible. They can go the distance. They can do everything. Love makes them generous.
Today let us ask God to grant us a big faith and a great love so that we can be generous. Our faith and love impels us to share unselfishly.