November 5, 2018

O.T XXXII (B) Nov 11, 2018 Homily

One-page Summary of OT XXXII (Nov 11) Sunday homily (L-18)

One-page Summary of OT XXXII (Nov 11) Sunday homily (L-18)

Introduction: Today’s readings invite us to surrender our lives to God with a humble and generous heart, by serving others lovingly and sacrificially.

Scripture lessons: The first reading and the Gospel today present poor widows who sacrificially gave their whole lives and means of livelihood to God, symbolizing the supreme sacrifice Jesus would offer by giving His life for others.  In the first reading, taken from the First Book of Kings, a poor widow who has barely enough food for herself and her son welcomes the prophet Elijah as a man of God, offers all her food to him and receives her reward from God in the form of a continuing daily supply of food.  In the Gospel, Jesus contrasts the external signs of honor sought by the scribes with the humble, sacrificial offering of a poor widow and declares that she has found true honor in God’s eyes.  The poor widows in both the first reading and the Gospel gave away all that they possessed for the glory of God. The sacrificial self-giving of the widows in the first reading and the Gospel reflects God’s love in giving His only Son for us, and Christ’s love in sacrificing himself on the cross. So, the second reading tells us how Jesus, as the High Priest of the New Testament, surrendered His life to God His Father totally and unconditionally as a sacrificial offering for our sins – a sacrifice far beyond the sacrifices made by the poor widows.

Life   messages: # 1: We need to appreciate the widows of our parish: Even in seemingly prosperous societies, widows (and widowers), in addition to their deep grief, often suffer from economic loss, from the burden of rearing a family alone, and from a strange isolation from friends, which often sets in soon after protestations of support at their spouses’ funerals. Let us learn to appreciate the widows and widowers of our parish community.  Their loneliness draws them closer to God and to stewardship in the parish.  They are often active participants in all the liturgical celebrations, offering prayers for their families and for their parish family.  Frequently, they are active in the parish organizations, as well as in visiting and serving the sick and the shut-ins.  Hence, let us appreciate them, support them, encourage them and pray for them.  

#2: We need to accept Christ’s criteria of judging people: We often judge people by what they possess.  We give weight to their position in society, to their educational qualifications, or to their celebrity status.  But Jesus measures us in a totally different way – on the basis of our inner motives and the intentions hidden behind our actions.  He evaluates us on the basis of the sacrifices we make for others and on the degree of our surrender to His holy will.  The offering God wants from us is not our material possessions, but our hearts and lives.  What is hardest to give is ourselves in love and concern, because that gift costs us more than reaching for our purses. Let us, like the poor widow, find the courage to share the wealth and talents we hold. Let us stop dribbling out our stores of love, selflessness, sac rifice, and compassion and dare to pour out our whole heart, our whole being, our “whole life” into the love-starved coffers of this world.

O.T. XXXII (B) (Nov 11) I Kgs 17:10-16; Heb 9:24-28; Mk 12:38-44

# 1: Widow’s mite and St. Jean Jugan’s & mother Teresa’s mite: It is now well known how God transformed the humble mite of the widow St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, and religious sisters St. Jean Jugan and St. Teresa of Calcutta to revolutionize the field of caring the sick, the poor and the discarded people all around the world. God empowered Elizabeth Ann Seton the young and bankrupt, 30-year-old   widow with five children to start the first Catholic parochial school, the first Catholic orphanage and the first indigenous religious order for women (Sisters of Charity in 1809) in the U. S.  The growth of the parochial school system and orphanages is now history. Thirty years later in 1839 God blessed the humble mite of a French lady Jean Jugan to assemble a group of kind- hearted women into a religious order Little sister of the Poor to take care of the poor, the sick and the dying people. It spread to so many countries and in the U. S. to 26 dioceses. Mother Teresa began her caring for the poor and the sick and the marginalized people in 1948 after getting trained at the Little Sisters of the Poor in Calcutta and after receiving a short course in nursing from Medical Mission Sisters. She founded the Missionaries of Charity religious order in 1949. God blessed her mite, and before her death it grew to 4500 Sisters and Brothers, 755 homes for the children, the sick, the destitute and the dying and 1,369 medical clinics that serve 120,000 worldwide.  Today’s first reading as well as the gospel, by citing the examples of two widows, challenge us to surrender our lives to God, sacrificially serving others.

#2: A widow’s mite in the life of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. By birth and marriage, Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton was linked to the first families of New York and enjoyed the fruits of living in high society.  Reared a staunch Episcopalian by her mother and stepmother, she learned the value of prayer, Scripture reading and a nightly examination of conscience.  At 19, Elizabeth was the belle of New York.  She married a handsome, wealthy businessman, William Magee Seton.  They had five children before his business failed, and William died of tuberculosis.  At 30, Elizabeth found herself widowed and penniless, with five small children to support.  While in Italy with her dying husband, Elizabeth had witnessed the Catholic Church in action, through the lives, beliefs and behavior of family friends.  Three basic elements in Catholicism led her to become a Catholic in March, 1805: a belief in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, a devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary as Mother of God, and a conviction that the Catholic Church traced its origin and priesthood in a direct line back to the apostles and to Christ.  When Elizabeth returned to the U. S., many of her family and friends rejected her because she had become a Catholic. To support her children, she opened a school in Baltimore with the cooperation of some of her friends.  From the beginning, her group was organized along the lines of the religious community which would only be founded officially in 1809.  Mother Seton became one of the keystones of the American Catholic Church.  She founded the first American religious community for women, the Sisters of Charity.  She opened the first American parish school and established the first American Catholic orphanage. All this she did in the span of 46 years while rearing her five children.  She died on January 4, 1821, and was buried in Emmitsburg, Maryland.  In 1963, Mother Seton was beatified, the first American-born citizen to receive this honor.  She was canonized in 1975.  Elizabeth Ann Seton was a real widow who offered her mite to God without reservation as the poor widow in today’s Gospel did (Adapted from St. Anthony’s Messenger).

#3: St. Jeanne Jugan’s mite: St. Jeanne Jugan was the Mother Teresa of her time. It is probably no coincidence, either, that St. Teresa of Calcutta spent several of her formative years in India with the Little Sisters of the Poor before founding the Sisters of Charity. The congregation of the Little Sisters of the Poor was founded in France in 1839 by a humble woman named Jeanne Jugan, who opened her own home to a blind elderly woman who had nowhere else to go. From this simple act of charity grew a movement — and then a full-throttle religious order dedicated to taking care of the needs of the elderly poor, doing so with a complete and absolute faith that God will provide all the resources necessary to carry out that mission in thirty countries. In 1868, the Little Sisters of the Poor landed in Brooklyn. There were no planned giving departments, no Little Sisters of the Poor annuities to be purchased for a donation, just the sustaining providence of God and the generosity of friends and strangers. For 150 years, since first stepping foot in New York, the sisters have experienced firsthand, how God and all those friends and strangers have graced them as they now span 26 dioceses across the United States. In all their homes are places where the charism of hospitality that St. Jeanne began in 1839 continues, and a place elderly and impoverished souls find love, compassion and the face of Jesus through the acts of dedicated consecrated women and an equally devoted staff.

# 4: Blessed Mother Teresa’s mite: Consider David Porter’s comment on Mother Teresa: “She was born as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (AG-nes GOHN-jah BOY-yah-jee-oo), to Albanian parents in Yugoslavia. She went to India in 1929 as a member of the Loreto Order of nuns, after learning English in their Motherhouse in Dublin Ireland.  There she taught for 17 years and became principal of the school.  In 1946, she received her ‘call within a call’ to work with the poorest of the poor.  By 1948, she had received permission to leave the Loreto order and had trained in the nursing skills she would need to carry out her calling.  She prayed, “Oh God, if I cannot help these people in their poverty and their suffering, let me at least die with them, close to them, so that I can show them your love” [Mother Teresa: The Early Years, 67; cited by Caroline J. Simon, “The Media and Mother Teresa,” Perspectives, 12 (March, 1997), 3.]  Simon notes: “From this simple beginning, the Missionaries of Charity have grown to include 4,500 Sisters and Brothers, 755 homes for the children, the sick, the destitute and the dying and 1,369 medical clinics that serve 120,000 worldwide.”  Mother Teresa’s mite has might, and it’s the ever-growing might of love in action.

Introduction: Today’s readings invite us to surrender our lives to God with a humble and generous heart, by serving others lovingly and sacrificially. It is the self-giving in the gift or the heart and the sacrifice behind it or the love and concern involved in it which God counts. God counts the inner motives and hidden intentions of our gifts and how it costs us. The first reading and the Gospel today present poor widows who sacrificially gave their whole lives and means of livelihood to God, symbolizing the supreme sacrifice Jesus would offer by giving His life for others.  In the reading from the First Book of Kings, a poor widow who has barely enough food for herself and her son welcomes the prophet Elijah as a man of God, shares her food with him and receives her reward in the form of a continuing daily supply of food.  Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 146) is the first in the final group of Hallel psalms.  In it, God is praised for his loving-kindness toward the needy, including widows.  In the Gospel, Jesus contrasts the external signs of honor sought by the scribes with the humble, sacrificial offering of a poor widow and declares that she has found true honor in God’s eyes.  The poor widows in both the first reading and the Gospel gave away all that they possessed for the glory of God.  The second reading tells us how Jesus, as the High Priest of the New Testament, surrendered His life to God His Father totally and unconditionally as a sacrificial offering for our sins – a sacrifice far beyond the sacrifices made by the poor widows.

First reading,  1 Kings 17:10-16, explained: This particular passage is one in a collection of stories of miracles wrought by the prophet Elijah who challenged King Ahab and his cruel pagan Queen Jezebel over the issue of worship of the false god, Baal.  Complementing the story of the Widow’s Mite told in today’s Gospel, the first reading explains how another poor, pagan widow, a Syro-Phoenician living in Zarephath in the territory of Sidon, in the middle of a famine and with little left for herself, shares the last of her meager resources with the prophet Elijah. As a reward for her sacrificial generosity, she receives God’s blessing for the remaining months of the famine in the form of sufficient continuing daily provisions which ensure their survival.  Elijah, instructed by the Lord God and following the Near Eastern custom, has asked for hospitality in the form of food and accommodation.  The widow is not unwilling but tells the prophet that she has enough for only one meal for her son and herself.  Nevertheless, Elijah asks her to demonstrate her trust in his God’s provision by first giving food to himself, as the man of God.  She does as he asks, and we know what happened.  Her jar of meal and the jug of oil did not empty until the drought had ended.  This story of the widow’s provisions, like the following story of Elijah’s raising of her son when he had died, also emphasizes the power of God’s word in the prophet’s mouth.   

Second Reading, Hebrews 9:24-28, explained

: The letter to the Hebrews was written for Jewish converts to Christ, in part to help them cope with the loss of the comforts they had enjoyed from the institutions of Judaism.  The Temple authorities had refused to permit early Jewish Christians to participate either in the synagogue or the Temple services.  St. Paul teaches these Judeo-Christians that Jesus, alive in the community, has become the Holy of Holies and the High Priest, around which pair all Temple worship revolved.  Since Jesus has replaced both the Temple and human mediators, the Christians need not go to the Temple for worship.  The true temple is no more the Temple of Jerusalem or any other place of worship but humanity of Christ, the sanctuary in which God bodily dwells. Christ entered this sanctuary at his Incarnation when he became true man. In today’s passage, the institutions in question are sanctuary, sacrifice, and judgment.  Under the Old Covenant, a priest conducted an annual ritual sacrifice in the sanctuary of the Temple, slaughtering a lamb.  Paul argues that Jesus Himself has replaced the whole class of ancient priests, and that the earthly sanctuary has been made obsolete by the sanctuary that is Heaven, where Jesus the High Priest intercedes for us directly before God.  Similarly, the repetitive annual sacrifices have been replaced by Jesus’ once-for-all sacrifice at the end of the ages. The old sacrifices were meant to forestall an unfavorable judgment by God.  The new expectation is brighter and more positive: salvation for those who eagerly await Him. 

Gospel exegesis: The context: Beginning from chapter 11 of Mark’s Gospel, Jesus confronts the Temple authorities and challenges the abuses in the “organized religion” of his time.  One by one he engages in debate with the Sadducees, the Pharisees, the scribes, and the Herodians.  Jesus’ overarching condemnation of the religious-political-economic establishment is summed up when he accuses the leaders of having transformed the Temple into a den of robbers (Mark 11:17). Today’s Gospel text demonstrates why all those who held traditional positions of religious power found Jesus’ presence and preaching so disturbing.  Jesus’ denunciation of the scribes forms the conclusion of the series of Jerusalem conflict stories. These stories show the widening gulf between Jesus and the Temple authorities that will result in the Sanhedrin’s decision to get rid of Jesus.

The attack on pride and hypocrisy: The scribes of Jesus’ day were experts in the Law of Moses, scholars to whom people turned for a proper understanding of God’s will as revealed in Scripture.  But in today’s Gospel, Jesus moves from the scribes’ erroneous theology to their bankrupt ethics, reflected in their craving for pre-eminence both in religious gatherings (in the synagogue), and in social settings (market places and banquets).  Jesus publicly criticizes their behavior as a ceaseless grasping for honor.  He begins by attacking the popular style of scribal dress, a fairly easy target.  A first-century scribe wore a long linen robe with a long white mantle decorated with beautiful long fringes.  White robes identified the wearer as someone of importance and prestige.  Jesus’ observation that the scribes liked “to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces” is a reference to the tradition which dictated that common people “in the marketplace” should respectfully rise to their feet when a scribe walked past.  The Talmud notes that when two people meet in the marketplace, the one inferior in knowledge of the Law should greet the other first.  But the scribes began to feel that such respect was a right owed to them for their learning in the Law, and this made them arrogant and proud.  Likewise, at banquets and dinner parties, when rich men invited scribes and perhaps some of their pupils as guests, they would give these men prominent seats.  Similarly, the scribe’s synagogue seat of honor placed him up front with the Torah, facing the congregation.  Scribes were seated on a platform facing the people, resting their backs against the same wall that held the box which contained the Torah scrolls.  The problem Jesus pinpoints is that the scribes had confused the respect intended for the position they held with respect given them for their own abilities and accomplishments.  Jesus also characterizes the scribes’ offering of long prayers to God, whether in the synagogue or Temple or some other highly public place, not as an attempt to seek God’s will or praise God’s Name, but as a means of asserting, and being honored for, superior piety.

Devouring widows’ houses: In verse 40, Jesus denounces the shameless profiteering of the scribes at the expense of widows.  The Jewish scribes of the first century were not paid for being scribes because they were not considered as belonging to a professional, self-supporting group.  Thus, despite the honor their position brought them, many scribes were downright poor, and it was deemed an act of obedience and piety to extend the hospitality of one’s goods and services, of one’s home and resources, to scribes for their support.  Devouring widows’ houses is Jesus’ condemnatory description of the source of the luxurious lives led by some scribes who impoverished gullible and pious widows who volunteered to support them.  The reference to “widows’ houses” could also refer to the scribes’ tendency to abuse their powers as trustees for the estates of wealthy widows.  Further, these authorities were charged with distributing the Temple collections to widows and the needy.  In actuality, however, some  spent the funds on conspicuous consumption: long robes and banquets and Temple decorations.  This is how they devoured the estates of widows.  Power and position can lead even religious leaders to material greed and corruption.

Widow’s mite: By praising the poor widow, Jesus is pointing out the difference between giving what we have left over and giving all that we have. According to the Mishnah (Shekalim VI. 6), there were, standing up against the wall of the Court of Women, 13 trumpet-shaped receptacles that functioned to gather the gifts of the faithful for the Temple treasury. As Jesus and his disciples sat and watched the comings and goings of those offering their gifts of support, they observed many wealthy worshipers placing significant sums into the temple treasury.  But it was not until Jesus observed the tiny offering of two leptons (equivalent to a couple of pennies), made by a poor widow, that he was moved to comment on the proceedings.  It was not the woman’s poverty that made her gift significant for Jesus.  For him, it was the fact that this widow, alone among all the contributors lined up to give their offerings, gave her all.  The very rich put in much, and the moderately well-off put in a decent amount.  But all those who had gone before this widow had limited their giving by holding back a major portion of their money for their own use.  This widow stood alone as the one who had turned over, as an offering to God for His use, everything she had — two leptons.  Those two, almost worthless coins represented her last shred of security, her fragile earthly thread of hope for the future. With her deep desire to be an obedient servant of God, the widow gave all she had as an offering — even her future — for the sake of God.  In other words, she gave herself totally into God’s hands, with the sure conviction that He would give her the support she needed.

Compliment or lamentation? Oddly, some modern Bible commentators argue that Jesus’ statement that this poor widow put in all she had, was not intended primarily as praise of the woman but was meant both as a prophetic denunciation of the members of the Temple establishment who took advantage of such little people and as the expression of his personal moral indignation at the situation.  How, they ask, could Mark’s Jesus praise someone for sacrificing everything to a place and system which, even in the first century, Christians believed Jesus had replaced?  According to John Pilch (The Cultural World of Jesus), speaking of the widow who put her two mites in the Temple collection box, “Jesus laments this woman’s behavior because she has been taught ‘sacrificial giving’ by her religious leaders. Jesus’ constant Gospel teaching had been grounded in a belief that religion was never to use people’s benevolence to enrich itself.  Christians were to direct their generosity to the needs of others, not to enrich their parishes beyond a certain limit.  Yet Mark clearly focuses on the widow’s deed.  In contrast to the external signs of honor sought by the scribes, she sought only to please God, and she, not they, possessed true honor in God’s eyes. The simple piety of this woman of no social standing is contrasted with the arrogance and social ambitions of some so-called religious leaders.  This poor woman, in a daring act of trust in God’s providence, put into the treasury everything she had. Her action symbolized what Jesus would do by offering his very life to God his Father as an act of perfect   obedience.

Life   messages: # 1: We need to appreciate the widows of our parish: In our seemingly prosperous society, widows (and widowers), in addition to their deep grief, often suffer from economic loss from the burden of rearing a family alone and from a strange isolation from friends which often sets in soon after protestations of support at their spouses’ funerals. Let us learn to appreciate the widows and widowers of our parish community.  Their loneliness draws them closer to God and to stewardship in the parish.  They are often active participants in all the liturgical celebrations, offering prayers for their families and for their parish family.  Frequently, they are active in the parish organizations, as well as in visiting and serving the sick and the shut-ins.  Hence, let us appreciate them, support them, encourage them and pray for            them.

#2: We need to accept Christ’s criteria of judging people: We often judge people by what they possess.  We give weight to their position in society, to their educational qualifications, or to their celebrity status.  But Jesus measures us in a totally different way – on the basis of our inner motives and intentions hidden behind our actions.  He evaluates us on the basis of the sacrifices we make for others and on the degree of our surrender to God’s holy will.  The offering God wants from us is not our material possessions, but our hearts and lives.  What is hardest to give is ourselves in love and concern, because that gift costs us more than reaching for our purses.

# 3: We need to pour out our “whole life.” Can we, like the poor widow, find the courage to share the wealth and talents we hold? Can we stop dribbling out our stores of love and selflessness and sacrifice and compassion and dare to pour out our whole heart, our whole being, our “whole life” into the love-starved coffers of this world?

JOKE OF THE WEEK #1: You know the old joke about the chicken and the pig that saw the church sign saying “Help feed the hungry.”  The chicken said “That’s a good idea!  Let’s help by putting in our ‘widow’s mite.’  Let’s give ham and eggs.”  The pig said, “That’s easy for you to say, but for me it’s a total commitment!”

#2: A six-year-old boy, home from his first day at Church, was asked what he thought of the Holy Mass. “It was OK,” he replied, “but I think it was unfair that the pastor at the altar did all the work, and then a bunch of other people came around and took away all the money.” Amen to that small lad’s insight!

# 3: A colleague once told how “a certain woman phoned her personal banker to arrange for the disposal of a $1,000 bond. The voice on the phone asked for clarification, “Is the bond for conversion or redemption?” The confused woman paused and then inquired, “Am I talking to the bank or the church?”

Websites of the week (You Tube items on marriage)

1)      The be-attitudes of marriage (fun filled talk by Rev Mark Gungor)

https://youtu.be/HpyMhlT94Nc (The be-attitudes of marriage)

 

https://youtu.be/v9dEktzDSDA (Rules in relationships)

 

https://youtu.be/814eR5K7KD8 (Tale of man’s & woman’s brains)

 

https://youtu.be/sXKDJcGkYbE (How to stay married and not kill anybody)

 

2)      Focus on the family: http://www.focusonthefamily.com/

23 Additional anecdotes

1)  Mr Harakhchand Sawla’s         mite: (http://jeevanjyot.in/design/white/about.html)  A young man in his thirties used to stand on the footpath opposite the famous Tata Cancer Hospital at Mumbai and stare at the crowd in front, fear plainly written upon the faces of the patients standing at death’s door; their relatives with equally grim faces running around.  These sights disturbed him greatly.  Most of the patients were poor people from distant towns. They had no idea whom to meet, or what to do. They had no money for medicines, not even food.  The young man, heavily depressed, would return home. ‘Something should be done for these people’, he would think. He was haunted by the thought day and night.  At last he found a way.  He rented out his own hotel that was doing good business and raised some money. From these funds he started a charitable activity right opposite Tata Cancer Hospital, on the pavement next to Kondaji Building.  He himself had no idea that the activity would continue to flourish even after the passage of 27 years.  The activity consisted of providing free meals for cancer patients and their relatives. Many people in the vicinity approved of this activity.  Beginning with fifty, the number of beneficiaries soon rose to hundred, two hundred, three hundred. As the numbers of patients increased, so did the number of helping hands.  As years rolled by, the activity continued, undeterred by the change of seasons, come winter, summer or even the dreaded monsoon of Mumbai. The number of beneficiaries soon reached 700. Mr Harakhchand Sawla, for that was the name of the pioneer, did not stop here. He started supplying free medicines for the needy. In fact, he started a medicine bank, enlisting voluntary services of three doctors and three pharmacists. A toy bank was opened for kids suffering from cancer.  The ‘Jeevan Jyot’ trust founded by Mr Sawla now runs more than 60 humanitarian projects. Sawla, now 57 years old, works with the same vigour. A thousand salutes to his boundless energy and his monumental contribution!  There are people in this country who look upon Sachin Tendulkar as ‘God’- for playing 200 test matches in 20 years, a few hundred one-day matches, and scoring 100 centuries and 30,000 runs.  But hardly anyone knows Harakhchand Sawla, let alone calls him ‘God’ for feeding free lunches to 10 to 12 lac cancer patients and their relatives. We owe this discrepancy to our mass media!  God resides in our vicinity. But we, like mad men run after ‘god-men’, styled variously as Bapu, Maharaj or Baba. All Babas, Maharajs and Bapus become multi-millionaires, but our difficulties, agonies and disasters persist unabated till death.  For the last 27 years, millions of cancer patients and their relatives have found ‘God’, in the form of Harakhchand Sawla.

1b) The Operation Smile mite: Consider William Magee, 52, and Kathleen Magee, 51, founders of Operation Smile.  One is a plastic surgeon and the other a social service worker.  Op Smile began in 1982.  Since then, it has performed surgery on 18,000 kids in 15 countries to correct — without charge — such disfigurements as cleft palates and burn scars, while training local doctors in the procedures.  Says William: “The world is changed by emotion.”  On June 20, 1996, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation awarded the group a $1 million prize to continue the work.  William and Kathleen Magee’s mite has might, and it’s the might of love.

2) The poorest state in the U.S. is the most charitable: An interesting study appeared on p. 17 in the January 13, 2003, issue of Time magazine. It was a study ranking each of the 50 states’ personal income levels as compared to their rate of charitable giving. The results were surprising. Massachusetts, with the fourth highest personal income in the country ranked last in charitable contributions. The citizens of New Hampshire ranked 6th overall in average personal income, but ranked 45th in the percentage of their income given to charitable causes. On the other end of the spectrum, the citizens of Mississippi ranked 49th in average personal income, the second poorest state in the nation. Yet, Mississippians ranked 6th in the nation in their percentage of charitable giving. It also ranked first in actual dollars contributed. In Mississippi, forty-ninth in income, Mississippians gave, on average, about forty percent more to charity than did their Yankee cousins!  The more you have, the less you give. What that reflects is your values. Converted to percentage of income contributed to charity, the disparity was even greater. Another fact emerged: Wealthy people tend to give more to secular charities than to religious institutions. Poorer families give mostly to religious institutions and their social ministries. What’s going on? Are lower income families more generous or more religious? Do rich people see more direct benefit to their well-being from museums, colleges, or concerts than from worship, outreach, and fellowship at their churches?

3) “All that I have today is what I gave away.” In 1930, George Pepperdine, who was the owner of Western Auto, sold all of his Western Auto stock and went to Los Angeles. He endowed a college for three million dollars it was named Pepperdine College. Everyone thought that college was secure forever. A $3 million endowment in 1930! But as the years passed, it became hemmed in there in Watts in the heart of L.A. I think there was only 15 acres of campus. Dr. Binowski, a young president came to Pepperdine with a great dream. He raised 100 million dollars and moved to that college to a hundred acres of the most-beautiful property in Southern California – Malibu, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The college has become a great university, with the name Pepperdine University. It has a huge endowment, a growing student body and an expanding national reputation. George Pepperdine, in 1930, would have never dreamed of the legacy he would leave the world. In 1950, George Pepperdine made some unfortunate investments, and lost everything. In 1962, he was virtually broke, except for Pepperdine College, now Pepperdine a university. Pepperdine wrote a book entitled, Faith is My Future. The opening sentence of that book is, “All that I have today is what I gave away.”

4) Evie Rosen’s mite: Evie Rosen, 69, of Wausau, Wisconsin, is no doubt busy right now, knitting afghans. The reason: Winter is almost upon us, and someone is going to need a blanket. Evie is a retired needlework shop owner. Disheartened by news stories about the homeless, Rosen wanted to do something to help. “Almost every home has little balls of yarn. I thought if we could all knit 7-inch by 9-inch rectangles, we could stitch them together and make a lot of afghans.” She started Operation Warm Up America in 1992, getting the word out to churches, retirement homes and craft shops. Last year, with help from other organizations, the group distributed 16,000 afghans! Evie Rosen’s mite has might, and it’s the might of love!

5) Norm and Lori Nickel’s mite: Norm and Lori Nickel of Abottsford, British Columbia, wanted to offer their services as a family to help others. So, with four of their children, they took three weeks off in the summer last year to work with SOAR (Sold Out and Radical, Youth Mission International’s teen program). They were placed in Reedley, California, where they worked with an organization called Community Youth Ministries that had been able to get into a Hispanic apartment complex housing 2,000 mostly illegal immigrants, 1,500 of whom were kids. They did Vacation Bible School, sports camps, drama and various other activities with the children. Lori says: “I could feel God working through our hands as we played with the children, our mouths as we verbally shared his love, and our eyes and ears as we saw and heard their hurts and pains. Just to think that God had set our family apart for three weeks so that he could convey his love and compassion to hurting people was life-changing for me.” Norm and Lori Nickel’s mite has might, and it is the might of love!

6) Paul’s mite has might: Paul Beyer calls it “the Lord’s work.” Beyer lives in Leola, Pennsylvania. Every week for 35 years he has driven a truck to New York City, a six-hour round trip, to deliver food to the Bowery Mission, located in one of the seedier sections of Manhattan. His truck is loaded with produce, canned meats and pastries which the Mennonite farmers and businesses near his town have donated. He says that people trust him with the food he takes and that the reward is to see all the happy faces when the food arrives. Paul’s mite has might, and it’s the might of love!

7) Mite of volunteers: In Santa Monica, California, volunteer pilots can fly with Angel Flight, an organization that helps the disadvantaged get to places where they can get the appropriate medical diagnosis and treatment. In 1995-1996, over 9,000 volunteers assisted the Red Cross in local relief efforts around the country. In Toronto, if you are a youth 16-24, you qualify to be placed with another youth aged 6-15 suffering from emotional, behavioral and social problems in a program called Youth Assisting Youth. The program has a phenomenal success rate of 98 percent in keeping kids in school and out of the criminal justice system.

8) When Giving Becomes A Sacrifice: St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) of Calcutta said, “If you give what you don’t need, it isn’t giving.” She used to tell a story of 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 got only fifteen rupees (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 took the money. I have never seen such joy on anybody’s face as I saw on the face of that beggar at the thought that he too could give to Mother Teresa.” She said that gift meant more to her than winning the Nobel Prize. Mother Teresa went on: “It was a big sacrifice for that poor man, who had sat in the sun the whole day long and received only thirty cents. Thirty cents is such a small amount and I can get nothing with it, but as he gave it up and I took it, it became like thousands because it was given with so much love. God looks not at the greatness of the work, but at the love with which it is performed.” (Flor McCarthy in New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies).

9) “So why should I do anything for you?” There is a story told of a wealthy man who had never been what anyone would call a generous giver. His Church was having a big expansion program and financial campaign, so they resolved to visit him. In order to succeed where they had so often failed, they appointed a committee to study the situation. Finally the committee called on the prospect and told him that in view of his resources they were sure that he would want to make a rather substantial contribution. “I see,” he said, “that you have considered it all quite carefully. In the course of your investigation did you discover that I have an aged, widowed mother who has no other means of support?” No, they hadn’t known that. “Did you know that I have a sister who was left by a drunken husband with five small children and no means of providing for them?” No, they hadn’t known that. “Did you know that I have a brother who was crippled in an accident and will never be able to do another day’s work in his life to support himself and his family?” No, they hadn’t known that. “Well,” he thundered triumphantly, “I’ve never done anything for them, so why should I do anything for you?” (Ray Balcomb, Stir What You’ve Got). That makes the point in a sadistically humorous way. It’s not a matter of giving ‘til it hurts, but giving ‘til it helps. To be sure, like that man, most of us never give ‘til it hurts, much less giving ‘til it helps.

10)  I would give it to the poor.” A government social worker was visiting New England farms. He had the authority to give federal dollars to poor farmers. He found an elderly widow farming a few acres. Her house was clean but tiny. There did not appear to be much food in the house. The windows had no screens to keep out the summer flies. The exterior needed a paint job. He wondered how she could survive. He asked, “What would you do if the government gave you five hundred dollars?” Her answer was, “I would give it to the poor.” Do most Catholics give a fair share of their income to the Church and to charities? A Gallup poll answered that query.  In a recent year, American Catholics gave 1.3% of their income to parish and charities. But Protestants gave 2.4% and Jews 3.8%. A survey reveals while 44% of Baptists tithe giving to their parishes and charities, only 4% of Catholics do. Many Catholics are more generous to waiters than to God. They give up to 20% of their bill. That is double-tithing. Our comparative tightness with our dollars comes despite Rousseau’s admonition. “When a man dies, he carries in his hands only that which he has given away.” (Fr. James Gilhooley).

11) Widow’s mite in the Old Testament: Elijah had to flee, went off to the desert, east of the Jordan, where there was even less food and no water. He was fed by ravens, until God sent him to a widow in a little dessert village named Zarephath. That’s all we know about her. No, she’s the widow of Zarephath. No name is given for her. Elijah meets her as she’s gathering sticks for fuel to cook some food for herself and her son. He asks her for a drink of water and she gives it to him. Then he asks for food. She replies, “All I have is some barley meal and a cruse of oil. I’m about to make bread for myself and my son.” He asks her if he can have some. She gives it to him. She shares what she has for herself and her son, shares out of her poverty, because he’s in need. And behold, there is enough It’s a miracle. It’s the miracle that happens when you give all you have in trust. It wasn’t much, but when she gave there was enough, and God kept her supplies from running out until the drought and famine finally ended.

12) “They died from the cold within.”: Dr. Thomas Lane Butts tells the story of six people who froze to death around a campfire on a bitterly cold night. Each had a stick of wood they might have contributed to the fire, but for reasons satisfactory to themselves each person refused to give what they had. A woman would not give her stick of wood because there was an African-American person in the circle. A homeless man would not give because there was a rich man there. The rich man would not give because his contribution would warm someone who was obviously shiftless and lazy. Another would not give his stick when he recognized one not of his particular religious faith. The African-American man withheld his piece of wood as a way of getting even with the whites for all they had done to him and his race. And the fire died as each person withheld his/her piece of fuel for reasons justifiable to them. This story was originally told in a poem that ends with these tragic lines: “Six logs held fast in death’s still hand was proof of human sin; They did not die from the cold without; they died from the cold within.” (Rev. Siegfried S. Johnson) The wealthy people in our story were cold within, but this poor widow glowed with her love for God and for His Temple.

13) The Paradox of Our Time in History is that we spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy it less.  We have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, but less time; more medicine, but less wellness.  We read too little, watch TV too much and pray too        seldom.  We have multiplied our possessions but reduced our values.  These are the times of tall men, and short character; steep profits, and shallow relationships.  These are the days of two incomes, but more divorce; of fancier houses, but more broken homes.  We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life; we’ve added years to life, not life to years; we’ve cleaned up the air but polluted the soul.

14) Widow’s mite necklace: Writer Angela Akers tells of traveling on American Airlines. Out of sheer boredom, she began flipping through the airplane shopping catalogue. These catalogues are perfect for bored passenger with too much money on their hands. They are filled with expensive doodads. Among the jewelry items, there was a necklace that caught Ms. Akers’ eye. It was labeled “The Widow’s Mite Necklace.” No, they weren’t kidding. Some jeweler had taken a mite, an ancient coin that was practically worthless in Jesus’ time, and coated it in sterling silver, then hung the trinket on a glittering, sterling silver chain. Or, for a few hundred dollars more, you could get that same necklace in 14 karat gold. I wonder what Jesus would have thought of a gold-plated widow’s mite.

15) Supersize your vision and you will supersize your giving. John Maxwell tells us that during World War II parachutes were sewn by machine and packed by hand. It was a tedious, painstakingly repetitive process. Workers crouched over sewing machines and stitched for eight hours a day, producing an endless line of fabric, all the same, boring color. They folded, packed and stacked the parachutes. How could they maintain peak concentration in the midst of such boring labor? Every morning they met in a large group and were made to ask, “How would I feel if the parachute I am packing today were tomorrow strapped to the back of my son, my husband, my father, my brother?” These workers worked sacrificially and uncomplainingly, because someone had helped them connect their little contribution to the larger picture, to the larger mission of saving lives.
It’s easy to lose the larger picture of the Church’s mission in the day-to-day work of the Church. We need constantly to be reminded to connect what we are doing to the larger scope, the larger mission of the Church. Supersize your vision and you will supersize your giving.

16)  Widow’s commitment: There was once a man who had a disabled leg, but he was determined to walk. And so every day he got up, he went out and he walked. Eventually he worked his way up to several miles a day. One day he was out in the countryside and for some reason he felt exhausted – far more than usual. He hoped someone might come along and offer him a ride. Sure enough, a friend of his came riding along on a racehorse and noticed that his crippled buddy seemed exhausted. His racehorse-riding friend naturally volunteered to loan the man his racehorse. “Just be careful, though, this is kind of a peculiar racehorse. He’s been trained a bit differently than normal. When you want him to go, you don’t say, ‘Gitty Up!’ you say, ‘Praise the Lord!’ He won’t move if you say, ‘Gitty Up!’ And once you get him going, if you want to speed up, just repeat, ‘Praise the Lord!’ And then, when you want him to stop, you don’t say ‘Whoa!’ You say, ‘Amen.’ If you remember that you won’t have any problem at all.” Grateful for his friend’s generosity the man mounted the racehorse, got comfortable in the saddle and said, “Praise the Lord” and the racehorse moved right out. Now that he was riding the man found that he was enjoying himself so he decided to take the scenic route home and speed the racehorse up a bit as he was going so he said again, “Praise the Lord!” As he came around a curve in a bend he saw a cliff where the bridge had been disassembled for repair. Quickly the man attempted to stop the racehorse, “Whoa!, Whoa!, Whoa!,” but the racehorse didn’t stop. He was getting closer and closer to the dangerous edge, but he just couldn’t think of the right word. He was now able to peer over the cliff and see just how far down it really was when – all of a sudden – the man was able to recall the right word to stop. “Amen!” he cried, and the racehorse stopped right on the brink of the cliff. Overjoyed, the man raised his hands toward the sky and shouted, “Praise the Lord!” Friends, there’s something to glean from this story: commitment matters. Whether it’s the manner in which you ride a horse or the way in which stay faithful to God – commitment matters. Today’s Scripture reading from Mark is one of the most shining examples of commitment in all of Scripture, for today we are allowed a glimpse of the power of the widow’s mite. (Rev. Chris Perkins).

17) Someone to divide with: At the turn of the century, a man wrote in his diary the story of a young newsboy he met on a street near his home in London. It was well known in the neighborhood that the boy was an orphan. All attempts to place the boy in either an institution or a foster home were thwarted, because the boy refused each offer of help and ran away when attempts were made to confine him. ‘I can take care o’ myself jest fine, thank ye!” he would say to kindly old ladies who questioned whether he’d had his porridge that day. Indeed, he never looked hungry and his persistence at selling papers, load after load, gave the impression he spoke the truth. But the streets are a lonely place for a child to live, and the man’s diary reflects a conversation he had with the child about his living arrangements. As he stopped to buy his paper one day, the man bought a little extra time by fishing around in his pocket for coins and asked the boy where he lived. He replied that he lived in a little cabin in an impoverished district of the city near the riverbank. This was something of a surprise to the man. With more interest, he inquired, “Well, who lives with you?” The boy answered, “Only Jim. Jim is crippled and can’t do no work. He’s my Pal.” Now clearly astounded that the child appeared to be supporting not only himself but also someone who was unable to contribute any income the man noted, ”You’d be better off without him?” The answer came with not a little scorn- a sermon in a nutshell: “No sir, I couldn’t spare Jim. I wouldn’t have nobody to go home to. An’ say, mister, I wouldn’t want to live and work with nobody to divide with, would you?” (Alice Gray in Stories for the Heart; quoted by Fr. Botelho). 

18) History will be kind to me!” When asked about the possible permanent damage the Watergate scandal would have upon his political career, Richard Nixon replied, “History will be kind to me!” Only time will tell if Mr. Nixon was right and if modern historians will assess his political accomplishments as great enough to outweigh his moral failures when they tell the story of his administration. Such was not the case, however, with the political leaders of Israel and Judah. When the Deuteronomic historian set about the task of recording the deeds of the kings of his people, he evaluated them using a very different set of criteria. Rather than praise their diplomacy or achievements in foreign affairs, he dealt with each of Israel’s and Judah’s kings according to their moral rectitude and fidelity to the Covenant and the Law. With the brief statement, “And he did evil before the Lord,” the overwhelming majority of the kings of Israel and Judah were written off as infidels and sinners. Jesus too writes off in today’s Gospel the rich and proud Pharisees who displayed their generosity in the temple by contrasting them with the mite of the widow. (P.D. Sanchez).

19) A box full of loving kisses: Some time ago, a father punished his 3-year-old daughter for wasting a roll of gold wrapping paper. Money was tight, and he became infuriated when the child tried to decorate a box to put under the tree.

Nevertheless, the little girl brought the gift to her father the next morning and said, “This is for you, Daddy.” He was embarrassed by his earlier overreaction, but his anger flared again when he found that the box was empty. He yelled at her, “Don’t you know that when you give someone a present, there’s supposed to be something inside of it?” The little girl looked up at him with tears in her eyes and said, “Oh, Daddy, it’s not empty. I blew kisses into the box. All for you, Daddy.” The father was crushed. He put his arms around his little girl, and he begged her forgiveness. He kept the gold box by his bed for years. Whenever he was discouraged, he would take out an imaginary kiss and remember the love of the child who had put it there.  We require total surrender to do such giving. The tragedy of our lives is that often we hold back some part of us. There are many barriers that block our total surrender to God: fear, pride, selfishness and confusion. It is time that we examined ourselves, and practiced our charity with an element of love and sacrifice. (Fr. Bobby).

20) “Find someone in need and do something to help that person.” Dr. Karl Menninger, the famous psychiatrist, once gave a lecture on mental health and afterward answered questions from the audience. “What would you advise a person do to,” asked one man, “if that person felt a nervous breakdown coming on?” Most people expected the doctor to reply, “Consult a psychiatrist.” To their astonishment, he replied, “Lock up your house, go across the highway, find someone in need and do something to help that person.” The Gospel message for this Sunday is about giving. Christ praises the poor widow who drops only two small coins in the coffer of the Temple, unlike the others who “put in their surplus money’” (v. 43). The poor widow received the praise of Jesus because she put her last money, though she was poor. As Jesus said: “she gave all she had to live on.” The message of Jesus is very clear: Every person is capable of sharing no matter how poor or needy he is. (Fr. Benitez).

21) “You called me your bother.” Walking along a street in Russia during a famine, the great writer Leo Tolstoy met a beggar. Tolstoy searched in his pockets to look for something he could give. But there was none. He had earlier given away all his money. In his pity, he reached out, took the beggar in his arms, embraced him, kissed him on his hollow checks and said: “Don’t be angry with me, my brother, I have nothing to give.” The beggar’s face lit up. Tears flowed from his eyes, as he said: “But you embraced me and kissed me. You called me brother – you have given me yourself – that is a great gift.” (Fr. Benitez).

22) You are welcome! One-night years ago, a cloudburst stranded a newly-wed couple on a remote country road. Unable to go any further, they got out of their car and set out on foot towards a dimly lit farmhouse. When they reached the farmhouse, an elderly couple carrying a kerosene lamp met them at the door. Explaining their predicament, the young man asked: “Could you put us up till morning? A place on the floor or a few easy chairs would be fine.” Just then a few grains of rice slipped from the young lady’s hair and fell to the floor. The elderly couple glanced down at it and exchanged a knowing glance. “Why surely children” said the elderly woman. “We just happen to have a spare bedroom. You get your things from the car while my husband and I freshen it up a bit.” The next morning the newly-weds got up early and prepared to leave without disturbing the elderly couple. They dressed quietly, put a ten-dollar bill on the dresser, and tiptoed down the stairs. When they opened the door to the living room, they found the old couple asleep in chairs. They had given the newly-weds their only bedroom. The young man had his wife wait a minute while he tiptoed back upstairs and put another five dollars on the dresser. (Mark Link)

23) Copper coin Gandhi received: Mahatma Gandhi went from city to city, village to village collecting funds for the Charkha Sangh (Hand Spinners Association).  During one of his tours he addressed a meeting in Orissa. After his speech a poor old woman got up. She was bent with age, her hair was grey and her clothes were in tatters. The volunteers tried to stop her, but she fought her way to the place where Gandhiji was sitting. “I must see him,” she insisted and going up to Gandhiji touched his feet. Then from the folds of her sari she brought out a copper coin and placed it at his feet. Gandhiji picked up the copper coin and put it away carefully. The Charkha Sangh funds were under the charge of Jamnalal Bajaj. He asked Gandhiji for the coin but Gandhiji refused. “I keep cheques worth thousands of rupees for the Charkha Sangh,” Jamnalal Bajaj said laughingly “yet you won’t trust me with a copper coin.” “This copper coin is worth much more than those thousands,” Gandhiji said. “If a man has several lakhs and he gives away a thousand or two, it doesn’t mean much. But this coin was perhaps all that the poor woman possessed. She gave me all she had. That was very generous of her. What a great sacrifice she made. That is why I value this copper coin more than a crore of rupees.”

“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle B (No 61) by Fr. Tony: akadavil@gmail.com (L/18)

Visit this website by clicking on  http://frtonyshomilies.com/for missed or previous Cycle B homilies, 141 Year of FaithAdult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 196 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at akadavil@gmail.com. Visit http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html for the Vatican version of this homily.

Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604.