Saturday, June 10, 2017

All She Had

“A king’s secret should be kept secret, but one must declare the works of God and give thanks with due honor. Do good, and evil will not overtake you. Prayer with fasting is good. Almsgiving with righteousness is better than wealth with wickedness. It is better to give alms than to store up gold.”  Tobit 12:7-8

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.” Mark 12:41-43

Suscipe by St. Ignatius of Loyola
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.

Repetition as a rhetorical device is used in speaking and writing to emphasize a thought or concept.  It is so common, that sometimes we fail to even notice what is being repeated. However, when something is repeated once or twice, it is like a “Gibbs slap” to the back of the head. Pay attention. 

In our reading from the Book of Tobit, the Archangel Gabriel completely repeats an entire phrase within a few breaths of each other. After traveling with Raphael, Tobit and his son agree to pay the companion generously.  Following that act of generosity, Raphael reveals his identity and provides the advice to continue to praise God generously through piety, study, and action.

Remember, throughout this week, we have seen Tobit go through a series of emotional and spiritual ups and downs from burying the dead stranger to his healing from blindness. His Fourth Day journey has been rough. Raphael wants to make sure that Tobit and all who read this book of wisdom touch all the bases of the tripod legs.

Piety: Prayer with fasting.
Study: Know God’s will.
Action: Almsgiving with righteousness is better than wealth.

Can you image getting the message that your prayers were answered from the saint or angel to whom you prayed for intercession with and to God?  Whether your prayer is to and through St. Mary or St. Francis or St. Anthony, imagine your advocate appearing at your front door like Raphael did in today’s reading to reveal their identity to you. “it was I who presented and read the record of your prayer before the Glory of the Lord.”

Jesus also repeatedly calls our attention to widows.  First, he does so to point out what the Scribes do wrong. (“They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext, recite lengthy prayers.”) Then, he calls our attention back to the poor widow as an example of what to do right. (“…she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had…”). The two coins she gave Jesus cherished most of all. In fact, you can just image if this was the same widow who had lost her coin (Luke 15:8-10) and searched all over her house until she found it...only to give it away in the next action.

The concept of giving all is foreign to us. We prefer to give a part…sometimes a small part. Even though the Hebrew Bible reminds us early and often about tithing, Jesus takes giving one-tenth another nine parts higher all the way up to the heights of the cross. The widow gave all she had just like Jesus will give all.

Can you take your giving up to one part to a new level?  Maybe a simple step like using one of the Parish Giving websites to automate your weekly financial gift.  That way, when you are traveling or sick, your give is made even when you are gone.

Giving, though, is not only about money.  What can you do with your time to add more hospitality to your life?  Sharing food regularly with a food pantry is one way.  Did you know that you can even enter an order for food into popular websites and have the items delivered directly to the Capital Area Food Bank or other charities? 

Think too, about items sitting around your house or apartment.  What clothing, household items and more can go to a thrift store to generate revenue for its charitable mission? 

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