People are always inclined to show off wealth and material possessions. Showing off power is a tendency of the proud and mighty of this world. Media, entertainment, and even relationships make these aspects important to them. They use these venues for telling others their worldy assets. When one’s status in society is low, he is usually not given importance, while the opposite is true of the rich and the famous. These are the ways of the world so to speak. Thus, people are misled into thinking that this is the ultimate success in life.
One of the most important teachings that conflict with this view is Jesus’ message on the importance of humility and meekness. Since the start of salvation history, man has always fallen when pride and arrogance takes over. When aspiration for wealth is prime, he neglects his fellowmen and looks to survive in the race to acquire material possessions.
In the Gospel, Our Lord shows us the wickedness of showing off wealth and even on one’s piety and holiness,
“Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, “Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.” (Mk. 12: 42-44)
It is not what is seen outside but what is within that counts in the eyes of God. The widow gave all that she has, offering everything that she possesses to support the work of priests in the temple of God. In the First Reading, the widow isn’t even an Israelite, yet she trusts fully what Elijah said and the promise of his Lord. Facing sure starvation, she gives all that she has, her last bit of food—feeding the man of God before herself and her family. Both these widows show the love that Jesus revealed as the heart of the Law and the Gospel. Note the striking resemblance to the Father’s love for mankind in giving His only Son Jesus, who accepted death on the Cross to save us from our transgressions.
All these examples reminds us to give ourselves to God, for we will not be judged by how much we give, but rather how much our gifts reflect who we are and what we all have: body and strength, soul, heart and mind. Are we giving out of love, rather than out of duty?
“Do not be afraid,” Elijah said to her. “Go and do as you propose. But first make a little cake and bring it to me. Then you can prepare something for yourself and your son. For the Lord, the God of Israel, says, ‘The jar of flour shall not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, until the day when the Lord sends rain upon the earth.’ ” (1 Kgs. 17: 13-14).
May the Lord strengthen our faith to trust in the power of giving. May He strengthen our hearts to love more, without counting the cost and confident that our jar of flour will not go empty and our jug of oil run dry.