11/11/12

Heartstrings or purse strings?


Homily for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily


Jesus is not terribly concerned here with how much
someone might give to the temple treasury.
He’s interested, not in the amount being offered,
but rather, in the source of the offering – where it comes from.

In a nutshell, Jesus is saying,
“I’m more interested in the gift that tugs on your heartstrings
than in the gift that pulls on your purse strings.”

Of course,
it could be that my purse strings and my heartstrings are connected
and that’s OK if -
pulling on my heartstrings opens my purse all the wider.

But all too often, a few tugs on my heartstrings
can make me pull tighter on my purse strings
to protect the loot my heart has its eye on.

In the gospel,
Jesus sees the rich folks handing over large sums of money
but it’s not coming from their hearts
because they’re giving from their surplus wealth
and so their hearts don’t feel the pinch.

But the poor widow didn’t count her coins before making her offering.
She emptied her heart before she emptied her purse.

Her heart’s generosity wasn’t limited by her purse’s contents.

She had no surplus from which to make an offering
so she gave from her poverty – all she had.
And when you give all you have,
there’s a hole in the bottom of your purse
through which your heart empties out and gives itself away.



Even if you’re still holding strong
against the rising tide of Christmas ads,
you can’t escape knowing that the “season of giving”
is right around the corner.

“The season of giving…” An interesting term!

Who gives, in the season of giving?
And what is given?
And who gets, in the season of giving?
And what do they receive?
How much will we give this year
to those who already have too much?
And how much will we give to those who have next to nothing?
Will our giving be governed by our heartstrings or our purse strings?

In celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas
we stuff ourselves with food and drink and gifts.
Our purse strings will be wide open at the malls and online.
But when the needs of others tug on our heartstrings this year,
will we find ourselves giving from our surplus?
Or giving until we begin to feel even a pinch of want ourselves?

The scene in the gospel presents us with some stark contrasts.
Where do see ourselves, mixed in
among the scribes, the rich and the poor?

None of us is excused from this gospel’s demand.
In fact, the hero of the story is the poorest one in it.
This is a story for every heart, every purse,
for every one of us.

We hear this story, gathered at the Lord's Table.
Jesus gave from his poverty, too.
On the Cross, he emptied himself out,
he emptied out his heart for us,
not for a moment counting the cost.
And in doing so, he felt much more than a “pinch” in his giving.

And with the same generosity
he offers all of himself to us again today,
in the gift of his Body and Blood in the Eucharist:
the sacrifice of Calvary becomes our sacrifice of praise
and we receive everything Jesus poured out for us.

May Christ who gave himself for us
lead us to empty out our hearts generously, for one another,
and especially for those most in need
in this season of giving.

Purse strings image source

Heart strings source



 

     
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