It’s the time of year when many of us begin to reflect on our donations during the year. Many churches and charities make a last minute push for gifts, hoping that people will consider end of year tax-deductible gifts. Our own parish just finished up “commitment Sunday” which was the culmination of several weeks of asking members to pray and reflect on stewardship and our ability to give more to support the mission of the Church. How much should we give? Is it really possible to tithe and give 10% of our pre-tax earnings? If not, what amount is appropriate and can make a real difference without putting too much of a dent on our disposable income?
Today’s Gospel is a stark challenge to all of us as we pray over these questions. Jesus sees the wealthy putting offerings into the treasury but specifically calls out a poor widow who puts in two small coins. Her gift was insiginficant compared to the large amounts of others. But he praises her saying that “…those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.” The value is placed on those who make a sacrificial gift; something that comes out of our “whole livelihood” rather than just from our surplus. Can we examine that message today and let it challenge our own giving? Are we truly making gifts from our “whole livelihood” or are we making comfortable donations that don’t stretch us too much? Perhaps we could start simply by denying ourselves one thing we would purchase today for ourselves and directing that money to someone in need (either directly or via an organization). By taking small steps, we can begin cultivate a spirit of generosity envisioned in today’s Gospel.