Thursday, November 5, 2009

How much are we prepared to give?

Thirty Second Ordinary Sunday Year B

How much are we prepared to give to God? Here’s a story that may help us to understand. One day, three clerics, a Protestant minister, a Catholic priest and a Jewish rabbi were having a discussion on who gave the most to God. The Protestant minister proudly said that he only took ten per cent of the Sunday collection. The rest of the money was used for the Church’s work and mission. The Catholic minister didn’t want to be outdone. He said that the entire collection was given to God and his Church while he only took RM10.00 as his stipend. The Jewish rabbi turned to the both of them and laughed. “You men of little faith”, he exclaimed, “I on the other hand give everything to God. At the end of every Sabbath I take the whole collection and throw it up as an offering to God and whatever God allows to fall back down is mine!”

How much are we prepared to give to God? I don’t think that any of us are ready to give even 10% of whatever we earn. At least we see among the Protestants this willingness to contribute 10% of their earnings to the mission and work of the Church. Perhaps our Sunday offering may just be a dollar, which is less than one percent of what we earn. And yet, we often forget that all that we have is a gift from God. God has given us everything that we need and yet we often find it so hard to give back to him. We give back to God not only by our monetary contributions to the Church. We give back to God also through helping the poor, through our sacrifice of time and effort to further the Church’s mission. How much are we prepared to give to God?

The challenge given in today’s readings is really great. God is challenging us to give our all, to give our best and to give our lives to him. We have two stories to illustrate this. In the first reading, we have the story of the non-Jewish widow who is asked to share her last meal with the prophet Elijah. The prophet and God rewards her generosity by performing a miracle allowing her food to never be totally spent. In the gospel, Jesus takes the example of another poor widow to illustrate this need for total self-giving. This poor widow puts in only two small coins, which is nothing compared to big sums donated by the rich. And yet Jesus praises her action because “she from the little she had has put in everything she possessed, all she had to live on.”

In the second reading, Jesus himself is given as an example for giving. It is not money or material goods that is being given here. Jesus gives his own life as a sacrifice in order that we may be saved. Jesus has given his 100%, he has held nothing back.

Back to the question that I’ve been asking from the start: How much are we prepared to give to God? Are we very calculative? Are we trying to hold back many things because they give us security? Are we forgetting that Jesus has given himself entirely to us? Have we forgotten that God has given us everything we need? How much are we prepared to give to God?

Today, let us reflect over our own willingness or unwillingness to make sacrifices for God. How much time have we given to him? How much have we contributed to the Church through our talents? Or have we only been coming here to beg favours from God as if we were beggars? Today, let us pray that we will be able to give back to God what God has given to us everyday of our lives.

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