Two Cents Worth – Good News for November 9

9 11 2009

Yesterday’s gospel reading is worthy of repeating…

Mark 12:38-44

In the course of his teaching Jesus said to the crowds, “Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces, seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets. They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext recite lengthy prayers. They will receive a very severe condemnation.”

He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, “Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.”

The Daily Path: Have you read about the 97-year old homeless woman in Southern California who lives in a SUV with her two sons? Each night she sleeps in the front seat of their Suburban. I recently attempted to do the same and it was one of the most uncomfortable, sleepless nights I have ever experienced. I can’t imagine having to do it every night… or at her age. She and her sons live on government subsidies and whatever they can gather begging on the streets. They are trying to find Section 8 housing where they can all live together, however, guidelines for subsidized housing make that difficult.

Joseph found refuge for his pregnant wife Mary in a stable. Our Lord was born in the most unsavory of conditions, yet we have no record of any discontent. The family of three had a roof over their heads for the night and was together.

As I reflect on these two examples, and the gospel, I’m again reminded that there is only ONE plan. And the only road home leads through complete trust in God and unconditional surrender to Him. It’s not easy. I keep trying and trying, only to trip again and again. But it wasn’t easy for a widow who offered up the only money she had in the world, nor is it easy for an old woman that spends each night cramped in the front seat of the vehicle that she calls home.

Room to Chat: Lord, I am not worthy, but teach me to accept your plan and always see the abundance you provide in my life.

our_lady2





Genuine Giving – Good News for June 6

6 06 2009

Mark 12:38-44

In the course of his teaching Jesus said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces, seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets. They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext, recite lengthy prayers. They will receive a very severe condemnation.”

He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.  Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, “Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.”

The Daily Path: On a number of occasions I have experienced the following scenarios, perhaps you have as well…

An individual who becomes displeased over something that has occurred in an organization they belong to. This change in attitude is always related to change. It may be new leadership, a perceived slight, or loss of personal prestige. As a result of this change, the person(s) decide to leave the group. Before pulling up their “tent stakes” to depart they make it clear to anyone within earshot that not only are they leaving, they are taking ALL their financial support with them.

I’ve seen this in schools, non-profits, and especially among parish communities. In some cases it is justified to leave a group. In my experience it’s most often related to ego and largely unjustified. These people are not only hurting the community they leave, they are hurting themselves and completely missing the teaching of Jesus as repeated in Mark’s gospel. 

I struggle with ego. Most of us do. The ME likes to be praised. The ME likes to be in positions of prominence and influence. The ME also has thin skin. We move about thinking of ME and the reflections of life we see are like looking in a mirror. You can’t see the whole picture… you only see YOURSELF. 

ME gives a few bucks to the church that won’t hurt ME’s financial position in the least. And then, when ME feels ME isn’t getting the recognition that ME deserves for this surplus donation, ME leaves in a huff with those few dollars that ME believes are all important. 

This isn’t genuine giving. It’s vanity giving. It enables us to walk around in our fine robes like the Scribes of 2000 years ago. When someone spills something on our fine robe we make a loud stink and leave.

I pray that I’m granted enough vision to always see the lesson Jesus teaches here. May my contributions to the faith community always be genuine and without strings attached.

Room to Chat: In this economy it’s pretty easy to achieve the level of giving until it hurts. Maybe this coming week we can all add a little bit extra to the basket and good (God) works we support.