Friday, June 05, 2009

What is Due

June 6. 2009

Saturday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

When the wedding celebration came to an end, Tobit called his son Tobiah and said to him, "Son, see to it that you give what is due to the man who made the journey with you; give him a bonus too." Tobit 12:1

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." Mark 12:42-44


Father, please do not cast judgment on us based on what is due to us. If you were like that, we would never be reconciled with you. Instead, we thank you and praise you for giving us for-giving-ness. Help us find the courage, fortitude, temperance and prudence to give to others in the same way as you and the widow to spread love in the world. Amen.


In our marketing-dominated culture, so much of our focus is on getting an equal or greater exchange. We seek to extract the greatest value for ourselves from every market opportunity. Whether buying a pound of coffee, investing our savings for retirement, trading in our sometimes reliable used car, or giving money to charity, we make everything a financial equation rather than a value of life equation. The result: the richer do get richer and the poor end up like the widow in today’s Gospel.

The widow’s spirit still lives. According to a recent story on McClatchy New Service by Frank Greve, the poor still donate more as a share of their overall income than do those who are wealthier. Here is the start of his story originally posted on May 19, 2009…

America's poor are its most generous givers

WASHINGTON — When Jody Richards saw a homeless man begging outside a downtown McDonald's recently, he bought the man a cheeseburger. There's nothing unusual about that, except that Richards is homeless, too, and the 99-cent cheeseburger was an outsized chunk of the $9.50 he'd earned that day from panhandling.

The generosity of poor people isn't so much rare as rarely noticed, however. In fact, America's poor donate more, in percentage terms, than higher-income groups do, surveys of charitable giving show. What's more, their generosity declines less in hard times than the generosity of richer givers does.

Read the rest of the story here:

Thanks to Scott Mathern-Jacobson for alerting his Facebook friends to this story. I am lucky to be among that exclusive group of 610 and counting. Sign up to be his friend and learn about stories like this that the mainstream media miss along with his occasional hokey hockey passions. Go Wings. Beat them Pens!


Give yourself a charity-check-up as you watch the widow drop her last dime into the collection basket. What percent of your income was sent to charity last year? Pull out that Form 1040 and check it out right there on Schedule A (if you itemized your deductions). Where do you fall in relationship to the chart in the linked article?

If you are in the 2 percent club like most of the higher income brackets, can you try to double your charity this year and get up to the 4-5 percent range of your total income like those at the lowest end of the income spectrum reported? If that is too high because of your personal situation, can you set a three percent goal?

Now…here is the hard part that will make this easy to accomplish. Don’t wait for the end of the year. Start now and commit three, four, five or even ten percent of your income to charity each month. So when you get to the end of the year, you won’t have to make a big gift before the tax year ends on December 31. Whatever year-end giving you make will be an automatic boost to the higher levels you have set.

If you are looking for places to invest your hard-earned charitable dollars, allow me to suggest a few worthy causes:

Partners in Health (
Habitat for Humanity Musician’s Village in New Orleans
Doctors Without Borders/MSF USA
Right to Play
Washington Jesuit Academy

Check out their websites. You can bank on them using your money efficiently. Then let them check out a draft from your bank.

PS: And stop by St. Mary of Sorrows for some fair trade coffee this weekend. A pound of regular coffee for your home maker will only set you back $7 and the growers in Latin America, Africa, or elsewhere in the world will get a fair profit. After all, a fair profit is what is due to them.

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