Homily: Sacrificial Giving

November 7, 2021 – Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: 1 Kings 17:10-16 / Hebrews 9:24-28 / Mark 12:41-44

Tonight we will be hosting a capital campaign fundraiser at school and we will begin with a Mass in our chapel, using the readings for today, the Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time. I’ll be offering a homily at the Mass using the following notes:

*What a perfect gospel for a Mass prior to a fundraiser! Many rich people put in large sums. (Mark 12:41) 🙂

*Today we hear the familiar gospel story of the poor widow dropping a few coins into the treasury. I had the opportunity to actually see this gospel come alive when I visited Haiti in 2011. The country had endured a devastating earthquake the prior year, with over 300,000 Haitians killed and over 1.5M left homeless. The country was still reeling for the effects of the earthquake, very slowly trying to re-build their lives. I went to Mass with a small Haitian community in a nearly collapsing chapel up in the mountains. The people came to Mass dressed in their very best clothes, participated fully in the Mass, and welcomed us with joy, huge smiles on their faces. When offertory came, the basket was passed and these poor Haitians dropped in a few coins. It was not EXTRA money, but money they would have used for food or to purchase one more concrete block to help in the process or re-building their home.

*The gospel tells us, “Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.” The gospel is not offering a ‘poor versus rich’ or ‘anti-wealth’ message. Rather, it speaks to sacrificial giving. It was money given from the heart to the greater good. In the case of the poor widow as well as the Haitians, it was money given to the church – to the local faith community – rather than used for a need of the individual. Their gifts were selfless; they were sacrificial gifts.

*The reading we heard from 1 Kings speaks to the results of sacrificial giving. A poor widow only had enough flour and oil to make a small amount of bread to feed herself and her son. However, when a visitor, Elijah, asked to be fed, she disregarded her own needs to honor his request. Scripture tells us, the poor widow – because of her generosity – “…was able to eat for a year…the jar of flour did not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry…”

*When we act with a servant’s heart, selflessly denying ourselves in order to provide for others – for the greater good – we are building the Kingdom of God here on earth. Our generosity is returned. We will ultimately harvest what we sow.

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