For the past few seasons, the pastor of my parish here at Creighton University has asked me to make the annual Christmas appeal at all masses some Sunday in Advent. It’s not one of my favorite duties, but, it’s always successful, so I must do it well enough. Thus I’ll probably stand up there one more year, wondering if this time the pastor will respond with more than a forgiving smile at my request for a ten-percent commission. At least, I’ll get to deliver again one of my favorite parts of this appeal, when at its closing, I turn to the students there, asking also for their support of their campus church. Understanding full well the sacrifices they and their parents are making to attend this university, I can suggest to them the special blessings that come to those who give from their want rather than from their surplus.
The short piece from Luke’s Gospel today describes the occasion from which that notion comes. As Jesus teaches in the temple, He observes both the rich and a poor widow donating to the treasury, obviously prizing much more her “two copper coins” which represented “what she could not afford—every penny she had to live on.”
With Thanksgiving over, Christmas, the giving season, is now fast upon me, no matter how much I try to delay it with the spirit of Advent. Almost daily, I’m approached for my money and my time—in the mail, on the streets, on the job, from loved ones and from strangers. Indeed, some Sunday I’ll probably be up on the altar again doing the asking. So how do I respond to all these appeals? Don’t I typically decide from among them which I can afford and for which I have the spare time? And does not that criteria make of me one of the rich, giving only from my surplus?
Jesus’ words are tough ones to follow for those of us who enjoy life
in a culture of plenty. I doubt that I have the courage or the faith
to give it all away, “every penny” I have to live on. I am determined
this Christmas season, however, just once to give to just one worthy cause
more than I can really afford. And just once this season, when asked
to help out in yet another project, I’m going to do it, when I really don’t
have the time. None of that will put me on a par with that blessed
widow. But I think that’s what Jesus is asking of me.
Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook