Do We Really Give for the Good of Others?

11-11-2018Pastoral ReflectionsFr. Brian F. Manning

Our Gospel reading this weekend dramatically and beautifully illustrates the generosity of the poor. In our Old Testament reading from the Book of Kings, we learn about Elijah encountering a pagan widow during a famine. God had told him that there would be a great drought and that a pagan woman would aid him. When Elijah saw the woman, he asked for a drink of water. His request was normal for a desert climate, but he had “another ask.”

Notice in the story how he did not even wait for her response before he asked her for some bread to go with the water. She had so little to give him. She told him that she was about to prepare a fire to bake the last of her provisions. Elijah promised her that if she gave what she had, she and her family would not go hungry during the drought. Surprisingly, the poor widow did not ask Elijah for proof, assurance, or credentials. Instead, she trusted. Ultimately because of her trust, her supplies for baking did not run low during the scarce times.

The Gospel account also has a widow who gave generously from her meager resources. Jesus noticed her as he explained to the others what discipleship meant. There were many officials of Jesus’ day who reveled in their power. They wore fancy costumes with tassels and gold lamé and liked to show off how important they were. They liked being greeted by others in the markets. They loved receiving the people’s homage. They prayed quite loudly and conspicuously so that others would recognize how pious they were, but Jesus was not fooled by their performance. He boldly told the disciples that these hypocrites would receive “a very severe condemnation.”

In contrast to these officials, Jesus pointed out to the disciples a poor widow who put into the treasury two small coins. In comparison to what others gave, her financial contribution was quite small. The significance of her gift, however, was that the coins came from her substance and not from her surplus. Her gift did not serve her or any member of her family, either. Her gift would assist a stranger.

Both of the widows in today’s readings put their health and very lives in jeopardy because they trusted God. It was not so important what these widows gave as it was how they gave it. They gave without selfishness for the good of others. There is a great similarity between their gift and the gift Jesus gave each of us. The widows offered their lives for God. Jesus offered his life for us. Do we really give for the good of others?

Father Brian

Flyers: Last weekend during some of the Masses, a flyer was placed on cars in our parking lot and surrounding streets. Though the flyer looked like it represented the official Church, it did not. I was unaware that this was happening. At an absolute minimum decency and courtesy is to inform the Parish of this. We also know it is impossible to stop someone else from leafleting cars even on parish property. No one is able to stop folks who act in this manner, but you need to know by decided policy, I do not allow leafleting in our parking lot. There are other appropriate times and places for all this. By the way, we all know that a leaflet like this placed on cars usually has the opposite effect than what was wanted.