November 7, 2021 -32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/110721.cfm)
I remember once on a Sunday mass, after preaching about the boy (our so-called accidental hero) in the gospel about the Multiplication of Loaves, a small boy went up in the sanctuary during the offertory bringing with him his offering. He did not quite know where to put his five pesos offering. So, when I noticed him coming up, I postpone preparing the altar. Instead, I fetched the boy and led him to our collection box.
For me, it was a moving experience. Here I was, preaching about the boy in the gospel who gave everything (his two loaves of bread and five fishes) to Jesus as his generous contribution for the people’s need, and calling people to share something themselves for the church mission. And right there after, a little boy coming up in the sanctuary, offering his everything (n.b. for a three or four year old boy, a five peso coin is not only something but everything) for the mission of the church. Such gesture for me is not only something (because that little boy and his family heard my homily and responded to it), but EVERYTHING because it is Good News manifested right before my very eyes. Gospel as witnessed.
As you might notice, for the past Sundays, we have been reflecting about Christian values fitting for Christian discipleship. Blind Bartimaeus reminded us of the importance of seeing again God’s will in our lives. Then, Jesus emphasized the commandment of Loving God, others and ourselves as our right faith response to God’s grace. Then, particularly today, we reflect about Generosity.
Moving from the whole issue of what is the greatest commandment, here in our gospel today, Jesus discussed with his disciples about the whole issue of who or what can truly please God. By comparing the rich and the widow’s offering, Jesus pointed out to his disciples that what matters most is not What but HOW we give our offerings to God. The rich people gave from the excess or surplus of their plenty so that others may notice them, while the poor widow contributed from her poverty and helplessness everything that she has as her sacred offering. As Jesus upholds, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more that all those who gave offerings. For all of them gave from their plenty, but she gave from her poverty and put in everything she had, her whole livelihood.”
For Jesus then, what could truly please God is Generosity. God is pleased with generous people who wholeheartedly contributed and gave up everything they got for the betterment of others, (if not all). This is clearly portrayed by the poor widow who gave her family’s food to Elijah in our first reading; by the temple offerings of the poor widow in our gospel, by that boy in the multiplication of loaves, by that little kid who offered his five pesos for the mission and by Jesus who laid down his life for the redemption of many. They all wholehearted gave up and shared everything they got to the point of denying themselves for the good of others. Well, that is Generosity, that is Christian charity and love.
And generosity usually happens whenever we have sympathy & empathy towards others. Whenever we have the heart to feel with others (sympathy) & to feel for others (empathy), Generosity happens in our lives & grace abounds. We give credit to the spirit of generosity nowadays as we face the challenges of pandemic times. In our generosity via our sympathy & empathy with one another, somehow we are able to withstand in faith these trying times.
We pray then with St. Ignatius of Loyola as he described what Generosity is, through his Prayer for Generosity.
Dearest Lord, teach me to be generous. Teach me to serve you as I should. To give and not to count the cost. To fight and not to heed the wounds. To toil and not to seek for rest. To labor and ask not for reward. Save that of knowing that I do Your Most Holy Will. Amen. Hinaut pa unta.