by Fr Sandile Mswane
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Like always, scripture reminds us of that which we do not want to do. It tells us that which we do not want to hear. We want to go to heaven yet we do not want to travel on the right path to heaven. We want to take our own whereas that one leads to destruction.
Looking at this Sunday’s readings, they reminded me of the conversation between Jesus and the rich young man. When Jesus told the rich young man to go sell what he possessed and to give to the poor and by so doing he will have his treasure in heaven. Surprisingly, instead of accepting the words of our Lord with joy, for this man also wanted to go to heaven, in contrary “when the young rich man heard this he went away sorrowful” (Mt. 19:21-22).
The good news of Christ are meant bring joy to our lives not sorrow. When we hear his word and feel sorrowful, it is because we are told that which we ought to do not what we are doing. Maybe some will leave church sorrowful this Sunday for the Lord is reminding us to do something which many of us do not want to do, to share, to give. Instead, we think it is the right thing to do to accumulate material possessions for it brings self-esteem to one whereas Christ is telling us that we need to share what we have.
Giving or sharing ought to be part and parcel of a Christian’s life because by so doing, we are imitation Christ who gave his life as a ransom for us. Christ gave first, he shared his life for our sake and as his followers we need to learn to give and to share also. Giving or sharing without doubt pleases God and it is one other way to get closer to heaven. We need to be clear though that when talking about giving or sharing, this is a calling to everyone not to the rich only. Many of us hide behind the excuse that we do not have anything, we are poor. We need to share even the little we have. That is the lesson we get from the first reading, the widow who gave from the little she had. A widow is an image of a poor person. Though poor materially but what inspires me is that they seem to be very rich spiritually. They believe whole heartedly in God’s providence as we see also from the Gospel. They are not worried about tomorrow; what they will eat, where they are going to get money, clothes etc. For them God will take care of tomorrow. Right now I’m giving my all to God. That is how these widows think.
When Elijah, the Prophet, told the widow of Zarephath to bring him a scone and water, the widow was nor stubborn in saying the food left at her home was for her and her son only, there is nothing for the prophet. She went home and from the little flour left made a piece of bread for the man of God and brought him some water. A lesson that we do not share from the abundance of our tables but also from the little we have. The prophet tells the widow “…do not be afraid…” (1 Kings 17:13) for thus say the Lord of Israel, ‘the jar of flour shall not be spent, jug of oil shall not be emptied, before the day when the Lord sends rain on the face of the earth” (1 Kings 17:14). Power filled words. The problem with us that we fear, we are worried about tomorrow, about what we are to eat, what we are going to wear, about where will we get money. We do not have faith enough to trust that God will take care of tomorrow. Like the widow we hear of from the Gospel, she gave to God everything, not worried about the offering of the following day.
The two small coins of money was all she had, yet she gave out everything. The rich were putting in a great deal but Christ said to his disciples after observing how the people were offering “I tell you solemnly, this poor widow has put more in than all” (Mark 12:43). More in than all? Only two silver coins and the rich were putting in a great deal but Christ is saying she has put more in. This is a teaching that an offering must come from the heart, a willing heart, a faith filled heart, a trusting heart in God’s providence. For the rich, offering is usually a show off, offering change for that matter. Christ teaches us that when offering we must go all out. Share with your heart and soul. Not neglecting to mention the warning Christ passes out to the teachers of scripture, those who robe the poor for self-gain, show-offing with long prayers and in our times, with fancy cars, clothes and churches. Christ says on judgement day “the more severe will be the sentence they will receive” (Mark 12: 38-40).