—Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012 B Cycle. Ruth 3: 1-5; 4: 13-17; Psalm 127; Heb. 9: 24-28; Mark 12: 38-44 St. Nicholas
We give for a number of reasons…because the need is great; because we are encouraged to do so; because it makes us feel good; because it is part of our Christian teaching to give and share.We are a very, very giving community…not a day goes by that in my prayers, I don’t pause and give thanks to the Good Lord for the people of this community and the amazing generosity that is shown. We give for a number of reasons…because the need is great; because we are encouraged to do so; because it makes us feel good; because it is part of our Christian teaching to give and share. Whatever the reason we give and share, we are, and I’ll say it again, the community of St. Nicholas is an amazing community that shares its individual and collective wealth is a most loving and generous manner. Last week, I mentioned the phone call I received from Bishop Lee, who wished to thank the community of St. Nicholas for our consistent financial contributions to the Diocese and to the greater church. It was like having another and more intense appreciation of the feather that is in our collective cap! Not that we have to have anyone tell us of our collective and individual generosity, but when some one does make mention and notice of it, well, it does give us cause for a little self patting on the back! And, that my dear friends can go a long way in furthering and strengthening our efforts to build up this community of St. Nicholas. Today’s Gospel has one of the most heart-warming and tender stories in all of scripture…the widow who gives to the temple treasury a most simple gift of two copper coins, less than a penny. This was “big money” for this poor woman. Her donation came from her want and not from her wealth. Now, there were many affluent visitors to the temple who gave substantially more than this elderly widow. The difference, aside from the amount given…the affluent gave of their surplus and she, again, gave of her need and of her poverty. In other words, her gift was from her heart and the others from their purse. Jesus took note of this and did not let this opportunity pass without explaining what had taken place to his disciples. As a nation…here are some staggering statistics that may come as a bit of a shock. I know for me, when I read this statistics, I was very much surprised and I have to say, I was some what embarrassed by it all:
On food pantry Wednesdays, when I see our friends come to this church, seeking assistance and aid and enough food to get them by and in American restaurants so much food is being thrown away that an entire nation could be fed with it, well, it breaks my heart. As a nation, we consume 40% of the world’s energy, while we make up only 2% of the world’s population.As a nation, we waste more food from restaurants that if collected, could feed the people of Canada every day! That is absolutely unbelievable. Sadly, it is true. Now, there are more people in the state of California than the entire country of Canada. Still, to know that as a nation, we waste that much food, well, that is staggering. On food pantry Wednesdays, when I see our friends come to this church, seeking assistance and aid and enough food to get them by and in American restaurants so much food is being thrown away that an entire nation could be fed with it, well, it breaks my heart. As a nation, we consume 40% of the world’s energy, while we make up only 2% of the world’s population. These numbers, please, are not meant to make us feel badly. Though, I have to admit, when reading these numbers, I did feel pretty lousy and began thinking of ways I could change these numbers. I share these statistics with you to illustrate what a “surplus of wealth” can do to an entire people. However, amidst all these numbers, there are millions of American who go without food each evening, who live on the edge of despair and in poverty. Homeless shelters can not keep up with the demand for a beds and security, while the numbers of soup kitchens dwindle while the demand and need increases. Hunger, poverty, the homeless, those who suffer from these most dire of human deprivation will always be with us. Jesus said as much and we are entrusted with the responsibility to do what we can to change this terrible reality and provide a better life for our sisters and brothers. What does this mean for St. Nicholas? Ironically and yet fittingly, we have this passage from St. Mark proclaimed in the midst of our Stewardship Drive. I understand, I know and I appreciate that reality of where we are at, as individuals that make up this community of faith. I am sure that there are members of our community who have a harder time making ends meet. Their struggles are our struggles. Yet, what is rewarding and divinely infused is that the wealth of the community is meant to be shared, equally, for the betterment of the body of the faithful. Our wealth is not material nor financial, as important and vital they may be. Still, our true wealth is what we share at the table of life, the altar, the new cross that does not represent death but New Life.
Yet, in our efforts to surround ourselves with such things, we are to be mindful of the ethical and moral obligation to give, to share, to be receptive of those around us who are in need.Jesus tells us not to concern ourselves with storing up treasures here on earth, for our true treasures await us in Paradise. We have heard this passage from Scripture and we know it well. But, we’re human and we like things, we find a certain degree of pleasure in surrounding ourselves with some niceties that bring us happiness and contentment. And, you know, this is okay. Really, it is natural and it is alright to have things that make us happy. Yet, in our efforts to surround ourselves with such things, we are to be mindful of the ethical and moral obligation to give, to share, to be receptive of those around us who are in need. When we gather around this table, as we are now, we are to receive, equally, the gifts of grace, love and peace made real and made lasting by Christ Jesus, our Lord. Here, there are no distinctions such as wealthy or poor, the alienated nor the privileged. There are no barriers that separate anyone, for any reason…we come forward if we so choose and know, blessedly, that all are welcome, AS WE ARE, WHO WE ARE AND JUST AS GOD CREATED US. AND WHAT A BLESSING THERE IS IN OUR DIVERSITY…SO RICH, SO BEAUTIFUL AND SO BLESSED!!! And this, my dear sisters and brothers truly makes us rich beyond any understanding. And, the riches we receive at the altar and through our relationships with one another, well, these are gifts that do not rust, nor can they be stolen or misplaced…they are ours and they are gift wrapped specially for us, by Jesus Himself.