As members of the Church we are taught to give of our time, our talents, and our treasure in service to the Gospel. But how much is enough? Scripture is quite clear on this subject… this is an “all in” proposition, as our readings this week tell us:
Psalm 146:7, 8-9, 9-10
first reading comes from the 1st Book of Kings. In our passage this
week, Israel is suffering a great drought, and the great prophet Elijah
is on the run from King Ahab. He comes to the gates of Zarephath, a
city North of Israel between the cities of Tyre and Sidon. There he
meets a widow and her son. Tired and thirsty from his journey, he asks
the widow for some water and some bread, whereupon we learn that they
too are suffering, having only enough flour and oil to last one more
day. Elijah asks her again to make him some bread, and that the Lord
will make sure that her jars of flour and oil will no t run dry until
the end of the drought. We are told that all three were able to eat for
a full year, as God had promised. This promise that the Lord will
provide is reflected in our Psalm as we sing “Praise the Lord, my soul.”
widow from our first reading was willing to give everything she had,
her last remaining bread, to Elijah. Our Gospel from Mark, we see Jesus
teaching about two different widows. In the first part of our Gospel,
we hear Jesus chastising the scribes for taking advantage of wealthy
widows. Jesus then moves to a place opposite the temple treasury where
he can watch the people making their offerings. He points out that the
wealthy are putting in large sums of money. Then he point to poor widow
who drops in just a few coins. He tells his disciples that this poor
widow has contributed far more than the wealthy donors, for while they
are contributing from their surplus wealth, this widow was giving all
she had. It begs the question, who gave more?
Our second reading
continues our study of the Letter to the Hebrews. Here the author is
drawing a comparison between the annual blood sacrifices made by the
Temple priests to that of the blood sacrifice Jesus made on the cross.
Whereas the Temple priests are not giving their own blood, Jesus, our
High Priest, gave all he had as a single, final sacrifice, rendering any
other sacrifice inconsequential.
how much are you will to bet? How much are you willing to put in?
Scripture is consistently clear on this issue: When it comes to serving
the Lord, you must be willing to go “all in.” Following Christ isn’t
something we just do on Sunday’s for an hour. Rather, it’s an everyday,
lifelong pursuit. The Lord expects nothing less than our entire
effort. And yet we hesitate. We are quite naturally afraid of that
kind of commitment. Giving is not something we do instinctively. Our
animal nature is to take and to hoard, storing for that rainy day. What
parent hasn’t had to constantly remind their children to share?
Parents know that learning this behavior is good. Similarly God is
calling us to share. How do we know this is the right thing to do?
Like that child, we have to trust that this is right and good. God has
shown time and again that when we give our all, he will give us his all.