Monday, November 09, 2009

32nd Sunday - homily

How much of Catholics’ income do they give to the Church? Is it 10%? That’s what we’re supposed to be giving. Um, no, it’s not 10%. Is it at least half of that: 5 %? No. A priest once told me that if every Catholic gave 3% of their income, Catholic education would be free. Well, we know it’s not 3%. It’s actually 1.5%. Catholics give 1.5% of their income to the Church, according to stats from 2008. That’s a bit higher than other religions and lower than the highest which is 2.5% (a Protestant denomination).

So, we give 1.5% of our income. It is supposed to be 10% which is the idea of tithing. Tithing is a practice which goes back to the Old Testament. It means giving 1/10 of what we have to God who has given us everything. So, for you all in the future, that means 10% of your income before taxes. The model is 5% to your parish and 5% to charities, preferable Catholic charities.

What about you all right now? During the summer when you have income, give 10%. But, during the school year if you don’t have income, I would say to give 10% of your spending money. Think about how much you spend going out with your friends or eating out or whatever fun stuff you do and give 10% to the collection plate here. So, if you spend $50 each week, throw 5 bucks in our collection. And, by the way, all of the offertory money goes directly to the Newman Center which is for you. It doesn’t go to me and it doesn’t go to Meg. It is for the programs of the Center which are for you.

It’s an interesting dynamic – how we spend our money out there and in here. We seem to have a different view of dropping cash out there than in here. For example, if we go out to nice restaurant and pay only $20, we think, ‘what a steal’. But, in here, dropping $20 in the collection basket makes us think, ‘whoa, that’s a lot’. Why is that? That might be for another homily. But, it does touch on something that I will talk about tonight and that is generosity.

We are called to be generous – not just with our treasure, but also with our time and talent. To be generous really means to give ‘til it hurts. Like, we should feel it a bit when we give. And, we often feel it the most when it hurts in our wallet or checkbook. We have two examples of women – widows nonetheless – of generosity…two examples of people who gave ‘til it hurt.

In the first reading, the widow and her son are on the verge of death because they have such little food. She gives away the little bit of food they have to Elijah, believing that he is a man of God. She is rewarded for her generosity: she and her son receive a year’s supply of food. In the Gospel, Jesus points out that the widow who gives two copper coins (a few cents) gave more than anyone else there. She gave more than all of the rich people because she gave from her poverty while they gave from their surplus. Jesus was basically saying to his disciples and to all of us: “see, that’s generosity”. It’s like if you put all of the bills from your wallet into the collection basket tonight. Or, if you gave all of the money from your savings account to the Church! Now, we need to be prudent in being generous, but we see the models of generosity in these women.

Finally, the story of the widow in the Gospel points to the generosity of Christ. Scripture says that she gave her “whole livelihood”. She gave everything. This is exactly what Christ did for us on the Cross. He gave us his whole life, his “whole livelihood”. This is the generosity of Jesus Christ. Talk about giving ‘til it hurts! He gave his life for us and continues to give us his life in the Eucharist. He calls us to be generous to others and to Him. Let’s make no mistake, though: God cannot be outdone in generosity. Whatever we give him, he will give us more in return. Through this Eucharist, may we be generous. May we give ’til it hurts. May we be generous to God and others this week.

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