Giving liberates the soul of the giver
We live in a world in which the “result” is the only thing that really matters. Prizes and certificates are given for results, more so than for the effort or the manner of giving. But Jesus measures things in a different way as we can see from the story of the poor widow. For Jesus it was not the size of the offering that mattered or counted, but the generosity of the widow. In other words, it is not the simply the result that counts but the effort made, and the spirit that is revealed. What the poor widow did was a very small thing in itself and yet Jesus noticed it and praised it. It is nice to know that even a small deed of love does not escape his attention.
In the first reading we see how another poor widow was down to the last of her food. All she had left was a handful of meal in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And yet, by sharing what she had with the prophet, it never ran out. From this we can conclude that it is possible to give without losing. In fact, in some cases not giving can be a sure way of losing everything that we have.
Today’s readings invite us to ponder how someone who was as poor as this widow was able to perform an act of such spontaneous goodness. One needs to have been faithful over many years to the practice of generosity to have a heart like hers. It is not achieved by a few great deeds but by a lot of little ones. It is only through habitual generosity that the heart continues to remain open, and one becomes a loving person.
Saint Mother Teresa told a story how one day she was walking down the street when a beggar came up to her and said, “Mother Teresa, everybody is giving to you, I also want to give to you. Today, for the whole day, I have only thirty cents. I want to give it to you.” Mother Teresa thought for a moment. “If I take the thirty cents, he will have nothing to eat tonight, and if I don’t take it, I will hurt his feelings. So, I put out my hands and I took the money. I have never seen such joy on anybody’s face as I saw on the face of that beggar man at the thought that he too could give to Mother Teresa.” Mother Teresa concluded that “God looks not at the size of the gift, but at the love with which it is given.”
Many are familiar with the story of fifteen-year-old Jewish girl namely Anne Frank. The diary she kept in captivity has been translated into many languages. A year before she died in a Nazi concentration camp she wrote in her diary: “Give of yourself. You can always give something, even if it is only kindness. No one ever became poor from giving.” It is an amazing statement coming from one so young, especially when one considers the circumstances in which she was living at the time.
From the readings and the above-mentioned stories, we can trust that when we share such things as knowledge, love, peace, with others our own supply of these qualities is in no way diminished. Giving brings its own reward. Thus, let us give of ourselves to others and by giving may we experience true liberation in our souls and raise up the souls of others.
When we give our consent to God by accepting our vocation, even a vocation that seems to be a life of scarcity like consecrated celibacy or celibate priesthood, we become intentional widows for the kingdom. The more deeply we give our consent, the more deeply we live from Divine abundance and our ministry helps to raise the soul of others to their true dignity and calling in life.
By Susai Jesu, OMI
Vocation Team – West