Many churches often have Stewardship Renewal drives around this time of year, with St. Michael’s beginning its drive in mid-October. Talks or homilies on stewardship during this time of year often utilize the imagery of the fall harvest season because stewardship is often a time to take stock of God’s bounty-both spiritually and materially-and plan accordingly as to how much a family or individual is willing to commit to giving to the parish in the coming year of their time, talent, and treasure.
The Mass readings today are picked in part to reinforce that theme of the importance of giving to God’s work through the church out of the bounty God has given to us. The question in the back of some people’s minds as they listen to stewardship appeals often is not touched upon in depth by the preacher or speaker discussing the importance of stewardship, however. That question is best summed up as, “If God is all powerful, why does He need my money?” The readings today beautifully answer that question.
In the strictest sense, God does not need material things as He has no physical needs. God created all the resources that humans have turned into valuable commodities like gold, silver, and precious gems. If God does not need wealth, why then does God ask us to give to the poor, the Church, and to charity so often in Scripture? The answer is found in the poor widows in both the Old Testament and Gospel readings. In both the reading from 1st Kings and the reading from Mark, the widows offer to God what they have. The widow of Zarephath offers Elijah the food she has left. In the Gospel story, Jesus witnesses and later remarks upon a widow putting in her last small coin into the collection basket.
In both instances, these small gifts are all the givers have, and yet they trust God enough that their gift is truly given out of selfless love. In much the same way that a young child picks dandelions as a bouquet for their mothers, these widows offer God all they have. And like a mother who has no material need for a handful of dandelions, God accepts those gifts because they came from the very heart of those widows. The gift itself, while not worth much in the grand scheme of human economics, is given with such great affection as to make it all the more precious in God’s sight than a treasure chest full of gold because as the old saying goes, “money can’t buy you love.” Let us give thanks this season that we serve a God who understands and appreciates the meaning of selfless love because He modeled it for us on the cross.