Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mk 12:38-44 or 12:41-44
November 7, 2021
Last week, I was with a group of “pastoral ministers.” Of course, our concerns over the multiple threats of apocalyptic magnitude that jeopardize our future dominated the conversation. Drought and food deprivation in poor and wealthy countries alike were definitely mentioned, at which point, someone raised a recent statement by an official of the United Nations World Food Program.
He suggested that: “$6 billion would provide immediate relief to 42 million people that are literally going to die from starvation without assistance.”
The source of this very dire warning went on to suggest that should the richest man in the world commit a mere 2% of his reported (that which is not hidden from the public eye) personal fortune, the problem would be solved and the suffering ended (at least for the time being).
One of my friends, a Franciscan, without hesitation, asked the obvious question: Well, why doesn’t he?
The answer was obvious: Because he doesn’t think like you do!
He doesn’t appear to think like a Franciscan, or he would have written the check without anyone even knowing it. Instead, he issued a public response, basically saying, “Prove it!”
Hmmmmm….what do you make of that?
This story will likely continue to unfold. As the gap between the unimaginably wealthy and the poor continues to widen, the rich will justify their limited action…or inaction…by showcasing the good things they do.
But before we throw too much shade on the increasing number of world billionaires, it would be good to consider how the average, run of the mill Christian approaches charitable giving. Do most people react to “proven need” as my Franciscan friend would? Or do we evaluate the situation?
Will my name go in the program?
Can I deduct this from my taxes?
How much am I going to need to retire?
What if my heat bill goes up this winter?
If I contribute, can I still afford the new car?
Etc. etc. etc.
This week’s Gospel certainly raises the topic of generosity and charitable giving. But it seems also to invite us to reflect on what motivates people to give…or not to give. The wealthy people that open today’s Gospel are deeply concerned about image, status, and recognition. Clearly, the widow of Zarephath and the widow Jesus observed in the Temple have no reason to be concerned with any of that.
So just what was the motivation for these two heroic women to give…not 2%…but all they had to give? Can it be anything other than TRUST? They show remarkable trust in God’s infinite mercy and love. Rather than trying to control their future well-being through planning, saving, hoarding, or concealing what little they had…they shared without question…and without show, trusting that somehow God would provide for their needs.
If you need proof, it might just be that you need to take a lesson from these two ancients…and learn to trust!
Trusting God’s goodness, power, and love is certainly the way to manage the stress caused by the multiple threats of apocalyptic magnitude that jeopardize our future and occupy our conversations.