32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
1 Kings 17:10-16
Psalm 146:7, 8-9, 9-10 (1b)
November 11, 2018
Today’s gospel portrays two types of people, the givers and the takers.
First Jesus speaks about the scribes who “go around in long robes..accept greetings…seats..and places of honor.” They want to receive acclaim for their position. They “take” all the recognition they can get. They are full of pride.
They also “devour the houses of widows.” They “devour” in the sense they force even the poor to give so that they (the scribes) can live a life of luxury. They do nothing to help the widows.
Then Jesus speaks of the “givers,” those who give to the treasury and their generosity. There are “rich people who put in large sums” yet it is poor widow that He praises for her giving. Why? Jesus answers why when He says the rich give from their surplus while the poor widow gave from all that she had. The rich don’t need the money they put in the treasury. They will never miss the money (except for their greed) but the widow will. They give from their surplus. She gives with her heart.
What motivates your giving? Do you give out of obligation? Do you give to look good to others (pride)? Where is God in your priorities of what you do with your money? Do you give from what is left over after you paid your bills and do the things you want or do you put God before your wants?
The parable speaks of money. Financial giving is one way of way of being generous. We count on your financial generosity to be able to pay our utilities, staff, and suppliers to be able to bring Christ to the world. However, giving money (treasure) is not the only way to give.
Look at the generous woman in the first reading. She has no money and only a little flour left. She is from Zarephath, which means she is probably not an Israelite, yet she is willing to share what little she has with Elijah. When you make a meal, are you willing to share with the neighbor who might be sick or infirmed and can’t cook much for themselves?
What is behind your giving? Is it true generosity? Is your giving motivated by your trust that God will always provide? Or you giving something while expecting it to lead to you getting more?
I’ve heard some televangelists talk about “anticipatory giving.” This means giving with the idea that God will bless you in the future with more. I have literally heard them tell a story of a person who gave $200 that they needed for themselves. A couple of weeks later they received $2,000 they didn’t expect. The televangelist says this is God blessing them for their generosity and tells others they should give in the same way and God will bless them.
I’m not going to tell you to give so God will give you more but I will encourage you to be grateful for the blessings God has already given you. The blessings God has already given us should lead us to trust that God will provide what we need in the future. We are to give with an attitude of gratitude for what we have.
As I said before, financial giving is not the only way to give. We can also give of our time and talents. We can use the talents that God has given us to help other people, giving our time in service.
Normally I give examples of ways of helping our church or other non-profits when I speak of giving of time and talent but since today is Veteran’s Day, I will mention our veterans who give in military service. War is not good, we need to pray that wars never need to be fought but we give thanks for the men and women who have served in our military. Some come home safely while others give their lives in battle while still others are forever effected with PTSD from their experiences.
Last week we heard Jesus say that the greatest commandment is to love God and the second is to love our neighbor. I believe that love can transform the world.
This week there was another mass shooting with twelve victims. I haven’t heard a motive yet in this shooting but certainly life was not respected and in many shootings, “hate” for someone or some group of people is a significant factor.
God transforms bread and wine into Jesus’ Body and Blood as the Eucharist we receive. Through his grace, God can take our generous love and use it to transform the world. How many wars have happened throughout history because of someone’s greed? Military power might stop a battle but only love can transform the world and bring true peace.
You have heard God’s Word here today. Shortly, we will celebrate the Eucharist. Let yourself be transformed by what you hear and receive today. It comes to you from God’s love. Then, take that love out to the world so that God’s kingdom may come.