Rev. Fr. Abel Ezenwa
1st Reading (1 Kgs. 17:10-16), Resp. Psalm (Ps. 146), 2nd Reading (Hebr. 9:24-28), Gospel (Mark. 12:38-44).
The art of giving is not an infused virtue but rather, an acquired virtue. It is acquired in the sense that one learns it through constant training and adherence to the godly exhortations of ‘Give generously and do not withhold.
It is equally good we note that there are 3 types of givers: 1. Those who give grudgingly – they are those people who give yet, they grumble, complain, and protest even as they give. They just give to fulfill all righteousness.
2. Those who give to show off – these are those who belong to the category of the biblical scribes and Pharisees. They give to be noticed, recognized, and be praised. They usually show off their wealth, making people believe they are deeply pious and religious. And so, they play to the gallery, clamouring for public approbation.
3. Those who give from the heart – these are honest and sincere worshippers of God. These people give in the spirit and truth.
They are not usually buoyant or well-to-do in the eyes of the world. So, they express their faith and conviction through their gifts and offerings. They give wholeheartedly and unreservedly. This third aspect of givers will definitely form the gamut of today’s Sunday Reflection.
You may Read My Reflection on Today’s Readings in 2018.
The Widow’s Mite.
Both the 1st Reading from 1 Kings 17:10-16 and the Gospel Reading of Mark 12:38-44 showcase a widow and her sincere disposition to give as long as it has got something to do with God and worship of God.
Little wonder, God has soft spot for widows just as He has for orphans. The expression – ‘The Widow’s Mite’ originated from the Gospel reading of today.
The observation of Jesus in the temple of worship during the time of offertory captures our fancy: “And he sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the multitude putting money into the treasury.
Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him, and said to them, ‘Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, her whole living ”
That’s the Gospel that was read to our hearing a few minutes ago. So, when we talk about the ‘widow’s mite’, the expression was drawn from this very context.
The widow not only gave all that she had but over and above all, she gave from the heart. It, therefore, becomes understandable why Jesus openly praised and acknowledged her offering.
A similar attitude is discernible too in the 1st Reading, where Elijah the prophet of God encountered the widow at Zarephath.
When the prophet asked her to bring him a little water in a vessel and a morsel of bread in her hand, the widow replied – “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a pitcher; and now, I am gathering a couple of sticks, that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die”.
The widow was simply open and sincere to the man of God. Even at that still, the prophet insisted that she should get him something to eat.
With some prophetic utterances, He assured the widow of God’s inexhaustible providence. In faith, the widow went and did as the prophet asked her to do. The testimony of her action remains the indubitable miracles we are witnessing today.
Giving From The Heart.
The Refrain of one of the Igbo offertory hymns goes like this: “Onyinye Di Mma a! Onyinye mara mma, onyinye si n’obi o bu ya na-aso Chukwu!”
By way of translation, it means, “Precious Gift, Gift from the heart pleases God”. The very point we wish to underscore here is that for our gift to be acceptable to God, just like the ‘sacrifice of Abel’ it has to come from a very sincere and willing heart.
The sacrifice must touch us, in the sense that it has to be sacrificial.
Something is sacrificial when it involves pain; when it touches us deeply. It is not when we just give from our affluence and extras or leftovers. It is when we give all that we live on and too, from the heart.
The Sacrificial gift is that gift we give without compulsion. The Sacrificial gift goes without a selfish intention. It is that gift comes from the deepest part of our hearts.
And so, the theology of the entire Readings and central message of today to the whole Church is that which we heard from the 2nd Reading of today.
When we talk about the sacrificial gift, that of Jesus Christ comes to mind: “But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself”.
This is part of the 2nd Reading we just heard a few minutes ago. Christ sacrificed himself. Such a sacrifice is in fact, the highest form of sacrifice. He is the sacrificial gift to humanity.
Beloved ones in Christ, in our giving, whether in the social or religious setting, let us always have it in mind that until our gifts turn to a sacrifice, it has not passed the test.
We should give from the heart, meaning that we should be involved in the giving, just like the widows mentioned today respectively in our Readings. Until our gifts become a sacrifice, we cannot capture the interest of Jesus just as the widow in our Gospel narrative did.
Therefore, Giving from the heart is sacrificial. Giving from the heart makes you involved in the sacrifice, but giving for the sake of giving, and also giving just from your abundance is another thing altogether.
May God help us every day to make our gifts qualify as a sacrifice, we shall not only earn the blessings of God’s miraculous supply but also get Divine approval and commendation in the end. There is a saying that “Givers never lack”. It applies to those who give sincerely from their hearts.
Peace Be With You!