In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Oh, no! Today we are presented with a Gospel lesson in which Jesus uses money as an example. It’s times like this when a number of people can
walk away from church muttering: “That’s all he ever talks about – money!” (Now, it is not the pastor who chooses the readings, that is a schedule made up by the church at large, set for many years – so it is a safeguard from anyone’s personal agenda.
But is it even fair to say this of our Lord? Is money the main point of Jesus’ words here?
This is not a parable; it is our Lord commenting on a real woman, a real widow, placing her real money – her real offering – in the temple. But is the money what Jesus wants our focus on?
What was going on? Our Lord is sitting there, in a place where you could see people coming and going in the temple, with an offering box nearby. Many people came through.
Lots of wealthy people would pass by a drop great amounts. Large donations for the work of the Lord. Is that bad? Of course not! Christ is not saying that this money was no good for God’s kingdom. Indeed, God used it well.
But then comes a poor widow. And she is the poorest of the poor. The widow gives the last two coins that she had to her name, and even they barely added up to a portion of a penny.
Jesus simply states that for all the great amounts that the wealthy had given, this woman had given the greatest treasure. The others gave out of much. She had poverty – and gave everything she had on this earth.
Many would come in the temple courts and have their tithe, ten percent of their wealth, perhaps even calculating what they needed to give, down to the penny. Then the widow enters, and does not give a tithe. No. She is free in the Gospel, not bound to the Old Testament rule of 10%. So she gives 100% of her so-called wealth to God.
Jesus commends her to our consideration. She did not give as the Law required. She went beyond that, giving out of loving thanks for the Gospel. It was rejoicing in God’s blessing, and trusting that He would have mercy, that she gave it all.
But again, is this about money? Yes and no. Money is only a part of understanding. The widow perceives what this earthly life is: entirely gift! Everything is a gift from our gracious Father in heaven. Our finances, yes, but so much more!
Your body and health are gifts from the Great Physician. Your mind and mental ability are gifts from Him. Your clothing and housing – gifts from the Lord. Sight, hearing, and communication – gifts from God. Friends and family are treasures from our heavenly Father. The ability even to breathe and have a heart pumping – gift.
So what do we have or possess that is not a gift from God? Absolutely nothing!
Jesus makes appoint of directing His disciples attention to the widow, but not for a lesson in
banking or financial planning. He praises her living out her faith. The Holy Spirit has led her to recognize that absolutely everything is a gift from God, and that He will not neglect her. She trusts He will provide and send what she needs. So she responds in giving back to God what is His to begin with: everything! Why? Because it was never hers to begin with!
How are you doing at recognizing that you own nothing? That everything belongs to the Lord and you are simply a manager? How easy is it for you to recognize that even your time is not your own? Your abilities and talents belong to God as well.
When you are begrudging the time you are giving to the Lord in His church and school, you are arguing with the Lord. When you say you don’t want to be bothered, or complain that “they always want my help,” you actually are despising the gifts the Lord gives. In fact, you are not simply hoarding your own time, or abilities, or possessions – you are cheating. You
have taken these things that belong to God and refuse to let Him use them!
Repent! Repent of selfishness. Repent of hoarding what is not yours to begin with. Repent of refusing to aid others with your gifts. Repent of denying the Giver the chance to use you in His giving.
Our precious Savior comes with His solution. The Holy Spirit does bring you to repent, and converts you once again to faith in the Lord. He brought rescue and redemption on the cross, and now He delivers it to you.
Jesus dwells in each of His baptized, and He uses you to give His gifts. He uses pastors to give His Holy Gifts of Gospel and Sacraments. And He uses you to give the daily bread He places in your lives. As He blesses you with more than you need, He provides opportunities to extend those gifts to those you know and meet. He gives you chances every day to share your time with friends and others that will benefit from you. He provides you with mental abilities and reasoning to benefit not only you and your family, but your neighbors, your fellow citizens, your church.
Our loving and providing God comes to you each week, forgiving, feeding, and forming you to give what He gives you. Our Father gives daily bread even beyond the ultimate and highest daily bread—the Bread of Life in the Eucharist, He uses every one of you to touch other lives in aiding their earthly needs.
Our compassionate Christ looks upon you as He did this poor widow, commending you and blessing you with the generosity of sharing yourselves and the sum total of all that you have or are.
So is Jesus asking you for your money today? No. He doesn’t have to – because there is no such thing as “your money.” It is His to begin with. Nor is He asking for your time or abilities. He is not asking for any of it. He knows that as He builds up your faith, and as He nourishes and sustains you, you will respond in love and thanks, giving back what He has given you. And He who has made you stewards of His gifts will keep on giving and using you until He returns again in glory, when the Giver gives the gift of resurrection and eternal life with Him.