Imaging the Generosity of God

My dear friends,

In the Gospel we have an example, among many found in Sacred Scripture, which shows that God does not judge by outward appearances, but by what is in the heart. And the question the Gospel invites us to ask is, “Lord, what do you see in the heart of this poor widow that you also want to see in my heart?” As we watch this widow deposit her two small coins into the treasury, our Lord is hoping to deposit something in our hearts by the widow’s example (and we also have the widow in the first reading to provide us with yet another example).

What made it possible for these two widows to be radically generous in their poverty and need—the first, to give away her last meal, and the second, to give away her last two coins? They could have held back, clinging fearfully and tightly to the little bit they had left.

The bible praises these two widows because they are beautiful examples of a disposition very dear to God. They have a persevering hope and trust in the Lord that allows them to remain generous even at the moment of their greatest need. There will always be moments in our life, for one reason or another, when we cannot give as much of our time, treasure or talents—and this is OK—as long we continue living generously, being generous with what we do have and serving in ways we still can.

Another biblical principle follows from this: God cannot be outdone in generosity and those who place their trust in the Lord will never be disappointed. Our Lord recommends this radical generosity to all his disciples, “give and it shall be given you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” (Lk 6:38)

Many of us have experienced how God’s blessings often come to us at the moments of our greatest need and vulnerability, when we feel weak, helpless, and limited. Though our hearts can be sorely tempted at these moments to withdraw, to become selfish and self-absorbed. It’s at such moments that our trust can grow by leaps and bounds and our hearts discover a deeper capacity for giving to God and others.

Jesus said that this widow gave more than anyone else, even though she gave only two small coins—because by giving her last two coins she was entrusting her whole life to God, giving Him her whole heart. In this she is a beautiful example of the self-emptying generosity of God himself, who will bless abundantly those who generously give and spend themselves right down to the “last meal” or the “last penny”—just as Jesus Christ did not hold back his life, but gave himself for us to the last breath, the last drop of blood.

Blessed Mother Teresa knew this secret of true joy and blessedness—which is why she would often encourage her sisters to “love until it hurts, and when it hurts, to still keep on loving.”

In every communion with our Lord in the Eucharist we are recipients of the radical generosity of God in Jesus Christ, who continued to give and pour out his life at the moment of the greatest darkness, pain, and weakness during his passion and death on the Cross. Let us ask the Lord today for the grace to trust like Jesus, and persevere in hope no matter how hard or difficult our situation so that we will not lose the joy, His joy, of giving our lives generously, even when, like the widows, we are asked to give out of our weakness and neediness.

God love you,

Fr. Steven

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