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GIVING. If the essence of Christianity is in loving, the essence of loving is in giving.

Therefore if we
cannot be Christians without loving, we cannot be Christians without giving. The lesson for today focuses
on the widows mite as it is traditionally called.
Three lessons about giving. First, the widow gave quietly. Unlike the wealthy people in the temple, she
gave quietly, without fanfare, without attracting any attention. That quiet giving has become so
extraordinary because we are a people who love attention.
Second, the widow gave cheerfully. She gave cheerfully, without grumbling, without expecting any return,
without complaining. She gave cheerfully without sighing and saying: Now I am left with nothing. She did
not even attempt to dramatize. She gave quietly and she gave cheerfully.
The third adverb about the giving of the widow is that it was total. The poor person is not the one who
gives nothing. The poor person is the one who keeps everything. That is not a blessed giving. It is not a
blessed poverty when we keep everything. At the sunset of life, according to St. John of the Cross, we will
be judged according to how much we love. It is not how much we give but how much we keep that will
determine our generosity.
Today, the Lord will give us Himself as an example again. Today let us keep on giving quietly, silently
without fanfare, cheerfully with a smile, without any grudge and totally, without counting the cost. (Bp Soc
Villegas, Love Like Jesus, p. 81)

Which is better: to share a little of what one has, with a great heart, or to share much from what one has
in abundance, with an ordinary or casual heart? I believe many of us will easily pick out the first choice!
However, which is better for our community: little giving or much giving.regardless of the heart factor? If
we are honest with our answer, we will say we prefer much giving! So, the issue about giving is quite
tricky, isnt it?
This poor widow put in more than all the rest. I believe that as a priest I have offered my life for the
Gospel. I do things for peoplepreach, minister to them, sit down with them. This may all be true.
But sometimes, when I look back at my life, now that I am almost 25 years in the ministry, I have found the
opposite truer. People minister to me. They sit down for me. They preach to me. They help me live a very
comfortable and wonderful life. They talk to me about their God and help me live my life. What I give may
just be a cents worth. What they offer me is their faith, their life, and their love.

I have been blessed much. And I need to give much. Money and material things are just excuses for the
real giving. The real gifts are those that come from the heart: time, care, compassion, faith, trust. The
poor widow gives God not two small coins but her all, her life. God expects nothing less. Real giving, they
say, starts when it no longer hurts because giving now comes naturally from us.

THE WORKERS IN THE VINEYARD

If we are honest we have to admit that we probably are sympathetic to the position of the
workers. If we were in their place we might very probably feel the same. Its not fair that they
all got paid the same! But we also need to look a little more closely at this. There are three
points that I feel this parable raises about the issue of fairness and how we tend to experience and
apply it.
First if we are not careful, our sense of fairness can easily turn into works
righteousness. You only get what you earn; you only get what you deserve; if you dont put in
the time and the work then you dont deserve to receive _______ (you can fill in the blank). This
is a popular attitude in our society. And to some extent our economy is based on this. But it runs
into problems when people find themselves unable to work and contribute for reasons that are
out of their control (ageing, illness, unemployment, etc.). So do we hold to our fairness doctrine
that says if you dont work then you dont eat regardless? It also runs into problems when we
apply the same paradigm upon our relationship with God. This then turns the grace and love of
God into a commodity that must be earned. This is completely rejected by Jesus and condemned
by the parables that Jesus tells. Gods love and grace are freely and extravagantly given to us all.
2nd If we are really honest we have to admit that our sense of fairness is really very
egocentric. We evaluate issues of fairness in terms of what I feel is fair, or what is fair
for me! As David Lose writes, We tend to measure fairness in terms of our own wants, needs,
hopes, expectations, often with little -- or at least secondary -- regard for the wants and needs of
others. Way too much of our political discourse is focused to appeal to our self-interest at the
expense of the community. This parable calls that into question. The landowners generosity is
extravagant and, in fact, it is to be celebrated as it means that all of the workers can now feed
their families. How hard is it for us to be able to see that this position or this law or that
government program, which might take a little from us individually may offer a lifeline and
healing to someone else. This parable calls for us to seriously consider this.
Third, and last is the issue of envy. Envy, the green-eyed monster, blinds us, it burdens
us, enrages us, divides us and separates us from each other and from God. Envy can lead to
resentment and bitterness that sometimes can last a lifetime. Envy separates us from the
community and from God and sends us off into our lonely corners of self-pity and resentment
where we can create for ourselves (and sometimes for those around us) an experience of hell on
earth if we are not careful. This parable calls on us to look at how we apply our sense of fairness
and how it leads us to separation and a continued experience of resentment and bitterness.
The bottom line: God is not fair. A sense of fairness is a human trait. God, by contrast is
extravagantly and illogically loving and gracious. God showers us with love and forgiveness and

acceptance and grace. Gods love for us is not dependent upon any sense of what is fair. And to
that we can only respond: Thanks Be To God!