Life runs in the foreground of giving. If you give it a critical thought, you will discover that nothing happens outside the ambiance of giving. Life itself is God’s gift, including creation and salvation, which is also a gift.
God is both a giver and the foundation of giving; in fact, it is in God’s nature to give. So, we notice that the entire bible can be summarized as an account of God’s relentless giving and the events of human ingratitude.
In the liturgy of last Sunday, our Lord Jesus Christ gave an executive summary of all the commandments using the phenomenon of the love of God and neighbor. This Sunday, the Readings present the act of giving as a practical expression of love. First, of course, two important elements of love, namely: giving and forgiving!
The First Reading (1 Kings 17: 10-16) tells us about Elijah’s encounter with the widow of Zarephath. The prophet had earlier pronounced famine in the Lord of Israel according to the counsel of God, and he was led to reside by the brook of Cherith where birds fed him, and he drank from the brook.
As the famine intensified, the brook dried up, and Elijah had to leave for Zarephath according to the word of God. So, at Zarephath, the unnamed widow showed up, and Elijah requested a bit of bread in addition to a small cup of water he had asked earlier.
The widow could afford a small cup of water, but she reportedly had nothing baked but only a handful of flour and a little oil which she was gathering sticks to make for herself and her son as their last meal before death.
Elijah encouraged her not to be afraid but to go and make a little cake for him and then prepare for herself and her son. But he added these words from the Lord God of Israel, “The jar of flour shall not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, until when the Lord sends rain upon the earth.” And it was so for a year.
In the Gospel of Mark (12:38-44), we hear about another unnamed widow who gave two small coins worth a few cents at the treasury in the temple. The offering was private, but Jesus called the attention of his disciples, indicating that while the rich people were making large donations, the widows gave more than all of them as she put in all she had, in fact, her entire livelihood.
The Giving Power of the Widows
One of the lies some people believe is that you need to have enough before you can give. The two widows in the First Reading and the Gospel serve as dispellers of that myth. They both share the same poverty line, and both gave the last thing they had.
The outstanding charity act of the two widows could only be possible on the strength of the power of love and faith in God. Wherever you find love, faith is next door. It is impossible to love without faith because love bears all things, believes all, hopes all things, and endures all things (1 Cor. 13:7).
Significantly, nobody is too poor to give. Giving comes from the heart and only finds expression in the hands. Nobody would have expected the widows to go to the point of releasing what served as their last material sustenance. They could do that because they believed that God and others should come first before any concerns of theirs
The flip side of the widows in the narratives are men and women in our day and age who believe that blessings are measurable from the much one could accumulate, not the much you can give to others. There is also resident in the lives of many people, the fear of becoming poor by giving. Ironically the poorest people are those who only have money and nothing else.
We still come back to the question that formed our topic for this reflection. Why do givers never lack? There are many answers from the scriptures. Our Lord Jesus Christ mentioned that you would receive gifts; a full measure pressed down and running over would be poured into your lap if you give (Luke 6:38). St. Paul answers this question by saying that God supplies seed to the Sower and bread for food and supplies and multiplies their seed for sowing and would increase the harvest of their righteousness (2 Cor.9:10).
Today’s big lesson is that we should not relent in giving or wait to have more than enough before giving. That time may never come because you may never feel like you have had enough.
Be rest assured of these words of St. Paul as you make a decision today to reactivate your disposition to give: “God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8)
As you step out from this reflection, make a functional resolution to give to others; even a smile to someone having a bad day could potentially make a big difference. God gave us Jesus, and Jesus gave his life to us as a ransom. So what are you ready to give?
God bless you, and have a blessed week ahead!