32nd SUNDAY Generosity of the Heart: Mk 12:38-44 or 12:41-44
In the first reading, we heard that a poor widow had barely enough food for herself and her son. She welcomed the prophet Elijah as a man of God, shared her food with him, and received a reward in the form of a non-stop supply of food during a famine. In the gospel, we heard that many rich people contributed money from their large sums, but a poor widow contributed from her poverty and she found true honor in God’s eyes. Here, Jesus was not looking for how much they gave, but Jesus was looking at their humble and sacrificial attitude.
Let me share with you a small story: The great writer, Leo Tolstoy, was walking on a street in Russia, and he met a beggar boy. Tolstoy searched in his pockets to look for something because he wanted to give it to this beggar boy. However, there was nothing in his pockets. In his pity, he reached out to the beggar, held his hands, embraced him, kissed him on his cheeks, and said, “Don’t be angry with me, my brother, I have nothing to give you.” The beggar boy’s face lit up, tears flowed from his eyes, and the beggar boy said: “But you embraced me and kissed me. You called me brother – you have given me yourself – this is the greatest gift you gave me.”
Very often, we judge people’s values or worth by what they possess. We give weight to their position in society, their educational qualifications, and their celebrity status. However, Jesus measures us in totally different ways on the basis of our inner motives and the intentions hidden behind our actions. Jesus evaluates us on the basis of the sacrifices we make for others and on the degree of our surrender to God’s will.
Today’s readings give us the message that when we give, we receive more. We experience happiness and peace when we realize that God is the only real source of our security. It is not money, power, university degrees, or professional status; these all are wonderful; but at the same time, these all can disappear without any warning. What really matters is people taking care of each other and generously sharing with each other like the poor widow. It is not how much we give but our attitudes that are most important. The attitude of sharing and giving! The measure of love is to love without measure!
Mother Theresa shared this story: One day, a beggar came and told her, “Everybody is giving something to you; so, I too want to give something to you.” After he said this, he offered a rupee to Mother Theresa. Mother felt that if she received this money from the poor beggar, he might starve that day. If she did not accept, he might feel sad; so, she accepted his generous gift. Mother said, “I was more grateful and happy when I received this poor man’s generous gift than the Nobel Prize. Also, I noticed the great joy and happiness on his face when I received his gift.”
In the gospel, the poor widow teaches us that the Kingdom of God is found not where people hold on tightly to their riches! Life is found not in holding on to what we have but in letting go. Let us remember the words of Mother Theresa: “We lose what we keep, and we gain what we give.”