Sacrificial Giving

Jesus tells us today in Mark’s Gospel of the widow who gave two copper coins to the Temple treasury. Jesus says that she gave more than everyone else because “they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.” (NAB, MK 12:44) The widow demonstrates sacrificial love by giving, not from her desires or wants, but from her needs. Furthermore, in contrast to the scribes who seek honor, prestige, and recognition for their generosity, the widow remains nameless and marginalized.

How are we as stewards? God blesses us with so much, including our finances, but also our time, energy, and talent. When we give of these, do we offer them in order to receive praise and honor? Is our charity about recognition and self-promotion, or is it about sacrificial love for a greater good? Let’s take time and examine our motivations, asking God to remove all pride and self-will, greed, and desires for excess from all we do.

Heavenly Father, all that is good comes from you, for you alone are good. Transform our lives in humility and sacrifice, so that we may serve you in love, and by loving our neighbor according to your will and for your glory. Amen.

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Authentic Giving

In Paul’s Letter to the Philippians (2:3-4) we read, “Do nothing out of selfishness or vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also everyone for those of others.”

This is echoed in today’s Gospel (LK 14:12-14), where we hear of Jesus’ instructions to a certain religious leader regarding who should be invited to a dinner party. Oftentimes, people would invite dignitaries, wealthy, and well-respected people to a banquet, so that these well-to-do folks would someday return the invitation. It was all about quid-pro-quo, “I’ll scratch your back now, and you can scratch mine in the future.”

Jesus teaches us that it is better not to do good to others simply to receive something in return; rather, invite those, and give to those, who cannot repay you and have nothing to offer in return. True giving doesn’t look toward what it will get, because true love seeks only to give itself for the good of the other. Love doesn’t look for a kickback. Love isn’t an investment seeking a return. Love is the giving of self, without concern for the cost. Let us take time today to look at our relationships, and then recommit to authentically giving and loving as Christ teaches us.