1Kings 17:10-16; Heb 9:24-28; Mk 12:38-44
Dr. Karl Menninger, the famous psychiatrist, once gave a lecture on mental health and afterward answered questions from the audience.
“What would you advise a person do to,” asked one man, “if that person felt a nervous breakdown coming on?”
Most people expected the doctor to reply, “Consult a psychiatrist.” To their astonishment, he replied, “Lock up your house, go across the highway, find someone in need and do something to help that person.”
The gospel message for this Sunday is about giving. Christ praises the poor widow who drops only two small coins in the coffer of the temple, unlike the others who “put in their surplus money’” (v. 43).
The poor widow received the praise of Jesus because she put her last money, though she was poor. As Jesus said: “she gave all she had to live on.” The message of Jesus is very clear: Every person is capable of sharing no matter how poor or needy he is. “Nobody is so destitute that he cannot give,” said the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP-II).
Many people would give because they are pressured to do so. Others give because they do not want to be embarrassed. Some would give for the motives of honor and prestige. And not a few would give because they want to get something in return.
True giving must be sincere. It must be coming from the heart. The real value of giving is not measured by the amount given. If this is the case, then, everybody can afford to do this, but real giving is the generous giving of oneself – a sort of sacrifice on the part of the giver.
But what is happening now? We heard stories about how some rich nations dumped their agricultural surpluses into the sea to maintain the prices of their products. Why do these developed countries not donate to starving people these surpluses? Fast foods and big restaurants into the garbage can throw thousands and even millions of pesos of food because these do not fit their standards and these are leftovers of people who eat in their places.
As Gavino had said in his book entitled Pricks of Conscience that many rich Filipinos are greedy and selfish. They want to amass more wealth by hook or by crook and even at the expense of the poor. And worst, their gold becomes their god! In their obsession with money, they are endangering their souls. We hope they will realize this soonest.
He continued to say that because of the negative attitude towards others by the rich people, these unconscionable well-to-do people continue to grab land, commit graft and corruption, cheat in paying their taxes, engage in illegal logging and/or drugs, oppress their laborers/tenants and other immoral and illegal acts inimical to our poor families. Thus, the poverty situation in our country further worsens while these filthy rich people get deeper in the mire of sinfulness. What a very strong words but I can say, this is true.
But the truth is we should not only sharpen our skill for making money, we must also develop, above all, our talent for giving it especially to the needy and the poor one. Ken Wilson called this spiritual talent of giving money as “Generosity Gift.”
How do we give? As Gavino in his book entitled Further Pricking of Conscience said that from the Bible we derived the manners by which we should gave such as:
- Give without ostentation or vain or blowing your trumpet;
- Give willingly or not begrudgingly or under compulsion.
- Mother Theresa’s advice was to “give until it hurts.”
I conclude this with a story. Walking along a street in Russia during a famine, the great writer Leo Tolstoy met a beggar. Tolstoy searched in his pockets to look for something he could give. But there was none. He had earlier given away all his money. In his pity, he reached out, took the beggar in his arms, embraced him, kissed him on his hollow checks and said: “Don’t be angry with me, my brother, I have nothing to give.”
The beggar’s face lit up. Tears flowed from his eyes, as he said: “But you embraced me and kissed me. You called me brother – you have given me yourself – that is a great gift.”
See Today’s Readings: Cycle B