This Sunday's theme from the first reading and the gospel, in my mind, is about "giving 'till it hurts". It's easy to give away the leftovers or excess from your abundance. But when you give from your basic necessities, it will not go unnoticed by God, and you will be rewarded.
Especially during these critical times in our economy, there are a lot more of us who are not in the 'abundance' category. But we must remember, God has a special place for the lowly and downtrodden. Here's the story from the first reading about the prophet Elijah in 1 Kings 17:10-16, who was traveling through a region which had been suffering from drought....
10 So Elijah the prophet went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, "Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?" 11 As she was going to get it, he called, "And bring me, please, a piece of bread."
12 "As surely as the LORD your God lives," she replied, "I don't have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die."
13 Elijah said to her, "Don't be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. 14 For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD gives rain on the land.'
15 She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. 16 For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the LORD spoken by Elijah.
This woman, who had barely enough to eat for herself and her son, ended up deciding to go ahead and share what little she had with this prophet Elijah; and the promise he made to her through God came true.
Now in the second reading, we are reminded we only have one life and one death. What we do during our life here on earth will impact our eternity. This reading is from Hebrews 9:24-28....
24For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; He entered heaven itself, now to appear in God's presence, on our behalf. 25Nor did He enter heaven to offer Himself again and again, the way the high priest enters into the sanctuary every year with blood that is not his own. 26Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 27Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28so also Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and He will appear a second time, not to take away sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.
And the following gospel from Mark 12:38-44 also speaks similarly to the first reading from the Old Testament. God takes into account how much of a sacrifice we make by our charitiable giving, according to our financial standing. It does makes a difference to Him.
38As He taught, Jesus said, "Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the marketplaces, 39and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 40They devour widows' houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely."
The Widow's Offering
41Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.
43Calling His disciples to Him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on."