32 Sunday Homily
Rabindranath Tagore is an Indian writer and a poet. He tells the story of a beggar. This homeless beggar was going around begging from door to door. As he was passing by the town he heard people crying out “He is coming! He draws near!” He turned back and looked. He could not believe his eyes. Seeing the dust of a gorgeous golden chariot, he thought, “Who can this be but a king among kings?” When he realized that it was the king of king coming, his expectations started soaring. He thought to himself, this is my day. The king of king is going to bless me with huge sum of money and all my problems are going to go away. As he was waiting in anticipation, suddenly the golden chariot arrived at his side and stopped before him. His heart started beating like anything, and for a second, he was so excited and said to himself ‘finally, the luck of my life had come. But contrary to his expectation the king himself held out his hand asking for donations. The beggar was utterly confused and stood undecided. He could not make out how a king could beg from a beggar. Then he took out the smallest grain of wheat from his bag and offered it to the king reluctantly. That night when the beggar finally returned home he emptied his bag on the floor. To his great surprise, he found a little grain of gold in the heap of alms. Realizing his foolishness, he thought to himself, how foolish I am. If I had given the king of king my entire bag of wheat the whole bag of wheat would have turned out to be gold. He started crying bitterly
Each Sunday in our worship service we take up an offering. Do you think Jesus is interested in how much money we put in the offering basket? Today our scripture talks about giving, and not just giving but giving till it hurts. Sacrificial giving, giving that is a sacrifice. In the Old Testament reading, a widow, living in the middle of a famine, with a son to feed gives Elijah a scone of bread made from her last handful of flour. That must have taken most of the flour make, at least half of everything she had.
In our gospel reading we hear the well known story of the widows’ mite. The widow, quietly and almost ashamedly, drops two small coins into the temple treasury. The coins were worth the smallest of value. But even though the value of the coins is small, it was all she had. It was her only chance of a meal. She is not doing her deeds of charity for recognition. She gives because she loves God.
St. Mark mentions that she gave two coins. She could have easily given only one. It would have been almost the same sacrifice. William Barclay notes, “It is our tragedy that there is so often some part of our lives, some part of our activities, some part of ourselves which we do not give to Christ. Somehow there is nearly always something we hold back. We rarely make the final sacrifice and the final surrender.” Mark is teaching us about discipleship. Compare these two widows with the rich man who went away unhappy, because he had a hard time giving.
I am left wondering what happened to that widow. I am sure that at the end of her life she met Christ in heaven. With a great smile on his face He looked at her and said, “I watched you on the day in the temple, when gave your last two coins, I was so proud of you.” But I also wonder what her life was like after taking that step, that step of trust, of faith, the step to give everything to God. To hold on to nothing and put your life in His hands. We all have this opportunity but so few of us take it.
This week’s teaching is challenging. This week we are given examples of people who gave, who gave not the spare and surplus in their life, but gave what they needed, what they relied upon. What do you currently give? I don’t mean what you drop in the collection basket? I mean everything, what do you give of your time, your possessions, your wealth, your love, your knowledge, you experience. What do you give?
I know you are giving an hour or two today in worship. You are here to love, worship our Lord and to meet Him in the holy Eucharist. What else do you do? What else do you give? Think about it? Today’s scripture should do two things, it should challenge you to give more and it should make you reflect on what you do give to the Lord. In some way your giving should hurt, it should inconvenience you, it should be difficult. It should be something that if Christ was watching, and I promise you He is, that He would be proud of.
These two widows reminds us of the selfless giving of Abraham with his only son, the selfless sacrifice of Abel the just who is giving the first fruits of everything to God in sacrifice and the supreme sacrifice of Jesus who gave himself for our sake. You are challenged to give, to give of yourself, your time, your possessions, your wealth, your love, your knowledge, your experience, your life. Your God asks you this, and as an example He has already given His life, just for you. When you meet Him in heaven as I know you will, what gift will he be referencing to when He tell you, “I saw you give, I was so proud.”