YEAR B: 32nd Sunday Homily for Ordinary Time
THEME: THE GIVING THAT HURTS (SACRIFICIAL GIVING)
BY: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka
R1 – 1Kings 17:10-16
R2 – Heb 9:24-28
GOSPEL – Mk 12:38-44
St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) once narrated 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, so as to reach out to the poor through you. Today for the whole day I got only fifteen rupees (approximately 83 Naira). I want to give it to you.” Mother Teresa thought for a moment: “If I take the 15 Rupees, 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 fifteen Rupees. Fifteen Rupees (#83) 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. Hence, she admonishes, “Give until it hurts.”
Beloved in Christ, the overriding theme of this Sunday’s liturgy centers on the act giving. The readings of this Sunday lay much emphasis not just on giving, but on the ‘modus’ of our giving, because, God looks not at the greatness of the work, but at the love (heart) with which it is performed.” So in giving, we must give until it hurts.
The first reading and the Gospel reading present poor widows who sacrificially gave their whole lives and means of livelihood to God and humanity. They manifested the kind of giving that hurts.
In the first reading, we see how a poor widow who barely had enough food for herself and her son welcomes the prophet Elijah as a man of God, offers her last food to him. She inturn received her reward from God as the man of God prayed that, “her jug of oil would never run dry and jar of flour never be spent.”
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, because she was committed to an act of giving that hurts.
The poor widows in both the first reading and the Gospel reading gave away all that they possess for the glory of God. The sacrificial self-giving of the widows in the first reading and Gospel readings, reflects God’s love in giving His only Son for us, and Christ’s love in sacrificing himself on the cross.
*THE GIVING THAT HURTS (SACRIFICIAL GIVING)*
The giving that hurts, according to Mother Teresa of Calcutta, is that sacrificial self-giving that inconveniences and gives us discomfort for the sake of God and humanity.
The Scripture says, “God loves a cheerful giver” (2Cor 9:7). The cheerful giver is the one who is willing to part with things without any hesitation or grudges, even when it hurts… while maintaining a true cheerful countenance; because giving involves great sacrifice on the part of the giver. Little wonder, David admonishes Araunah that a genuine act of giving, especially to God and humanity is the one that hurts, “I will not offer Yahweh my God burnt offerings which have cost me nothing” (2Sam 24:24).
Furthermore, Jesus’ emphasis on the sacrificial giving of the window in today’s Gospel reading and that of the window of Zeraphath, presupposes that there are various degrees of giving and it’s value in the sight of God. So, by praising the poor widow, Jesus is pointing out the difference between giving what we have left over and giving all that we have. God deserves all we have.
The kinds and degrees of giving include:
(i) *INDUCED GIVERS*
Those who give because they are pressured to do so. Those who give because they do not want to be embarrassed.
(ii) *OSTENTATIOUS GIVERS*
Those who give for the motives of honor, prestige and recognitions. Many politicians who open Charity Foundations during electioneering and campaigns belong to this group.
(iii) *TRADE BY BARTER GIVERS*
Those who give because they want to get something in return.
(iv) *TRUE SACRIFICIAL GIVERS.*
This is the kind of giving that pleases God. These are those who give even when they do not have enough (the kind of giving that hurts).
True giving must be sincere. It must be coming from the heart. The real value of giving is not measured by the amount given. If this is the case, then, everybody can afford to do this, but real giving is the generous giving of oneself – a sort of sacrifice on the part of the giver.
*HOW TO IDENTIFY TRUE SACRIFICIAL GIVERS*
A seasoned Christian author, Gavino in his book entitled, ‘Further Pricking of Conscience,’ said that from the Bible we derived the manners by which we should give such as:
(a) Give without ostentation or vain or blowing your trumpet (Mtt. 6:3).
(b) Give willingly or not begrudgingly or under compulsion (2Cor 9:6-8).
(c) Give until it hurts (2Sam 24:24).
(1) *EVERYTHING WE HAVE IS A GIFT.
The scripture attests to the fact that all we have is a gift from God (1Cor 4:7). God lavished beauty, complexity, and grandeur in creating the world. God, the creator of all, is responsible for all the blessings we enjoy. Life in this world was given to each of us as an undeserved, free gift. We have unequal physical talents, features, and abilities, plus diverse spiritual and intellectual gifts as well. They vary a lot from person to person. If all these came God, we ought to reciprocate to God’s sacrificial giving by acknowledging these gifts as coming from God by using it to serve humanity.
(2) *NOBODY IS SO DESTITUTE THAT HE CANNOT GIVE.*
The generosity of these poor widows indicates that, nobody is too poor to give. Every person is capable of sharing no matter how poor or needy he is. No one should be found at the receiving end.
(3) *THE TWO POLES OF GIVING: VERTICAL AND HORIZONTAL MUST BE UPHELD*
The examples of the two widows show two poles of giving that must complement each other. The Gospel reading reflects the vertical pole of giving (Giving to God), while the Gospel reading reflects the horizontal pole of giving (Giving to humanity). It is not enough to donate millions in the church while your kinsmen are dieing of hunger and penury.
(4) *GIVE UNTIL IT HURTS*
Every genuine act of giving must be sacrificial. God sacrificed his only-begotten son for our salvation. Jesus sacrificed his divinity inorder to save us from the curse of law. We too must learn to make sacrifices; giving our treasures, talents and time for the good of others. Most offerings in the churches are often made from our “chicken change.” Some other offer invaluable items in the name of generosity to the poor. Do not wait until you become comfortable or grow richer to give; just a little sacrifice that hurts.
Finally, Austine Perine, a four year old African American boy was watching Animal Planet with his father when a mother antelope (dam) abandons her baby antelope (calf) and walks away. Austin dad told him that the calf would become homeless. Austin was moved with pity for the calf when he learned from the dad that being homeless meant not having a home to stay and not receiving the care of a dad and mom. On a later date, Austin’s dad, TJ Perine took him to a homeless shelter in the city at his request to see what it means to be homeless. When Austin saw people looking hungry and tired, he asked his dad if they could give them his Burger King chicken sandwich. His father had not prepared for that, but he couldn’t but responded to Austin’s recommendation to feed the homeless. After that, Austin requested that the parents convert the money for his toys to buying chicken sandwiches for the homeless. Every week, the superhero who is also known as “President Austin,” would dress up in a blue top and pants with a red cape and visit the homeless to hand them food and would always say to them “remember to show love.” Soon he became phenomenal in the city and later in the country. Soon the Austins started getting support from people and organizations including $1,000 monthly allowance from Burger King to feed the homeless every week.
Beloved, that is the kind of giving that hurts. The poor Austin had to forgo and sacrifice his money for toys to buying chicken sandwiches for the homeless.
MAY THE GOOD LORD INSTILL IN US A HEART THAT GIVES WITHOUT CONDITIONS; A HEART THAT FEELS THE PAINS OF OTHERS AND STRIVES TO ALLEVIATE THEM THROUGH A GENEROUS AND CHEERFUL GIVING. AMEN!
*GOD BLESS YOU!*
*FR GERALD MUOKA*