Sacrificial giving

The episode of the widow’s mite in the gospel has always been challenging for me. The picture of a poor woman giving to the Lord everything she had to live on makes me question my own generosity. I, like most of you, have much to thank God for, much more than I need if the truth is to be known. When I remember that Christ teaches us to show our thankfulness by “giving as a gift what you have received as a gift”, I cannot help but compare myself to the poor widow and admit that I am not nearly as generous as she was. I am probably much more like the other people in the gospel who give out of their surplus wealth. In other words, after I have all that I want (notice I said “want” not “need”), then I consider what I will give to the church, to the poor, to some worthwhile charity. But my giving has not cost me anything personally. I have not really had to sacrifice in any significant way. It is important to note that Christ does not disparage this sort of giving. It is already something good. But He invites us to do something even better, to give when it does cost us something, when we do have to make a sacrifice. I remember some years ago receiving a letter at the Bishop’s office after an appeal was made to help people who had suffered a natural disaster. It was from an elderly couple living in an adult mobile home community. They wrote they had been saving for some months to buy a new set of drapes for their living room window. But, they said, it is more important for people to have a place to live than for us to have new drapes. Our drapes can wait. And they sent a check for $85. What a beautiful example of sacrificial giving! The widow in the gospel would understand and Christ would certainly be delighted with this sort of generosity. I pray that each of us can accept Christ’s invitation to give not only out of our surplus but even when we must sacrifice something for a while. When we do this, we imitate Him who gave everything for us.

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