November 8, 2009


32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mark 12, 38-44 “…but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had.”

After the Mass one Sunday morning, a mother complained, “The choir was awful.” The father commented, “And the priest gave a lousy homily.” And their six-year old boy said, “But you’ve got to admit, it was already a good liturgy for the P 10 coin we gave.”

Many Catholics are more generous to waiters in the restaurants than to God. We don’t complain when 10% service charge and another 10% VAT are added to our bill. They are our social duties. Unfortunately, we don’t do that to God. We don’t render to Him our religious duty. God deserves more than our “barya” (coins). He deserves a “tribute” for all the work He is doing in creation and for providing all our needs. He deserves everything in us.

The two widows in our 1st reading (1 Kings 17:10-16) and in our gospel (Mark 12:28-44) are deeply aware that everything is gift. Out of deep gratitude, they dutifully returned and offered to God everything they possessed as an act of “thanks-giving,” They cannot afford to be selfish to a generous God who provides all their needs.

By definition, a widow is one the poorest in the Jewish community. When she lost her husband, she also lost her status, protection, income and suffer social stigma. The two widows may be poor in the eyes of the community, but rich in the eyes of God because of their selfless giving of everything. The irony of life is, those who have plenty are selfish and the poor are the ones who are selfless and generous. .

The generosity of the poor widow who shared her little flour with Elijah was rewarded by God. Her jar of flour and jug of oil went bottomless until the end of famine. While the generosity of the second widow in the gospel gained admiration and respect from Jesus Himself. He said, “This poor widow put in more than all the other contributions in the treasury.” (Mark 12:43). Indeed, God loves cheerful “thanks-giver.”

Anyone who discovers God as the REAL TREASURE, does not need anything in their life. God is more than enough. They become selfless and other-oriented individuals.

Many years ago, I was asked to bless the remains of a poor old man in a far flung village in Kitaotao, Bukidnon. I was expecting a very quiet and modest wake. To my surprise, I found myself in a small nipa hut overflowing with grieving people. I learned that the old man was a jolly kindhearted person. The villagers cannot imagine their life without the old man. Having nothing to share but his time, presence and his worn-out broom, the old man gladly swept the backyard of everybody for years, expecting nothing in return. And every night, their children eagerly gathered around him for a story telling moments.

A simple act of kindness or self-less giving done in love is a diamond in the eyes of God. We touch people through our total commitment to things we do – big or small. We convert people through our daily simple witnessing and not through our beautiful words. Looking at the widows, we are challenged to offer everything to God with a joyful heart.

We should strive to provide the needs of our families. This is our main responsibility. But we are also love-bound to return to God what is due to Him and extend our hands to those in need. We don’t need to wait for another Ondoy to help. Genuine generosity is in the here and now, and not only when there is a surplus or excess in our wealth and time. God never ceases to provide all our daily needs. Poor and rich alike have something to share. Let’s give and alleviate suffering. It’s our “thanks-giving” - a fitting tribute to God’s generosity.

“The test of progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” – F. Roosevelt

- Fr. Willy M. Samson,SJ / November 8, 2009 / Ateneo de Zamboanga Chapel

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