Giving Till It Hurts
32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

There was this pledging session for a church project. The fund raiser was trying to drum up support and was motivating those present to give. He has primed some people to publicly pledge sizable amounts, in the hope that others may follow. The pledges came slowly. People were not being motivated. Finally somebody from the silent majority stood up to offer a suggestion. Why not have a secret pledging? Each one takes a piece of paper and writes on it the amount he wants to donate. This way people will not feel they are in a bidding contest. This will also give the poorer people an opportunity to share without being embarrased. The suggestion was approved. The pledges were added up and it went beyond the expectations of the organizers.

Action starter: Are you a stagnant pool or a bubbling brook? Share.

Many people are willing to give even from the scarce resources that they have. They do not even want others to know about it. The readings this Sunday tell of the generosity of the widow of Zarephath who fed the prophet Elijah and that of the widow who gave her precious coins into the temple treasury. The words of Jesus summarize this, “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.” (Mk.12:44)

If we examine the dynamics of giving we may be able to identify the essential characteristic of the act. If one takes away from the act of giving such extraneous motives as reward for one’s generosity, recognition by the public, or even the satisfaction of hearing the expressed gratefulness of the receiver what is left? Giving for the sake of sharing. Giving as an expression of one’s solidarity with others. Giving for the sake of the other.

One gives because he wants to share what he has, whether it is from his surplus or his last penny. Of course, as the Lord Jesus emphasized, the best expression of giving is when it is done to the point that one even shares from his needs. The joy of giving comes as an indirect result, a by-product of the act.

Some people are more generous than others. There are people who could hardly part with whatever they consider their wealth. One famous miser and millionaire preferred to use newspapers for her underclothes and eat only the cheapest food. Other people give for the satisfaction of being appreciated and recognized. Remember the times we had our pictures taken when we donate something?

Nature shows us the way. A well that is unused becomes stagnant. A well from which water is often drawn remains fresh.