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32nd Sunday

I came from a parish that is very responsible in giving. We did not do fund-raising for the usual needs of the parish, even for its repairs. It was enough that I announced the need and donations poured in. People volunteered their help if they noticed that something needed to be done. It was not money alone that they shared. Some volunteered to teach poor children on weekends. Others initiated projects for women, for the youth and families of overseas workers. There were people who donated materials that can be distributed to the poor. These were people sensitive to the needs of the church and the needs of their neighbor.

Today, the gospel shows us Jesus appreciating the gifts for the Temple. He appreciates the concern of people for their spiritual community. He praises the generosity of those who know how to share their resources for the work of God on earth.

When we give generously, we are imitating the generosity of God. People who give from their hearts realize that God is the source of all blessings. We receive our blessings from His hands. There is no good in our life that does not flow from God’s great love. When we share our blessings with the church, we enable these blessings to flow to the life of others, because the church is God’s instrument for reaching out to others both spiritually and materially. I always remember that small book, “12 Little Things You Can Do to Help Your Country.” The wise author explains why people who believe in God should support their church – Protestants, Catholics, and those of other faiths.

But the truth is this. Other Christians are very generous in giving. Many groups advocate tithing or pledging certain amounts to give back to God. Even Catholics in other countries do this. People who practice this attest that they see its benefits in their spiritual and material life. Bt while others have a discipline in giving, many Catholics are not as responsible in supporting their church. Many or us are indifferent to the needs of our church. How many churches are unfinished after so many years? How many projects unfulfilled because of lack of supporters?

Remember this: of all the churches, it is the Catholic church alone that does not force its members to give. Sunday collectors do not go around with pistols as they gather offerings. They do so with sweet, subtle, inviting smiles! As Catholics we are never forced, but we are reminded that our sharing will help our church reach many more people.

Some people say, we can’t share because we are not rich. Look again at the gospel. Here we find Jesus observing all the gifts for the Temple. But He praised only one gift – that coming from a poor widow who gave what was left for her to live on. When simple poor people share freely and cheerfully, that is when God feels the most joy – because there is sacrifice involved. To give from the surplus is expected but to give from want is a great act of love. It mirrors the giving of God, the giving of Jesus on the cross.

Let us remind ourselves of what our leaders said some year back. No one is so rich he cannot receive. And no one is so poor he cannot give.