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THE WAY TO GIVE

Father Francis's picture
Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Apoc. 14:1-5 & Lk. 21:1-4

What are we to make of Saint John's description of Heaven in the First Reading today? At first it seems as if Heaven is an exclusive club, to which numbers are restricted and secret songs are sung. If the population is to be only 144,000 it must be full already! My guess is that that number would not even include all the children who were baptised end died soon afterwards. Nor all the canonised saints and holy people who have gone before us. What room would there be for the likes of you and me?

The Jehovah Witnesses take these words literally, but I think we can say that John's vision is a symbol of what Heaven is like. There are going to be many people there who will be happy, praising the Lamb who redeemed them. John described the 144,000 as the “first fruits for God" indicating that more will follow. We hope that you and I will be included among them.

But what must we do to be added to that number? John gives us a hint that we should be truthful and sinless. The Psalm adds that we should be people with clean hands and pure heart who treasure those things which are of real spiritual value. We should look upon times we pray as a foretaste of the joys of Heaven and, if we do, the next natural step when we end this life will be to enjoy being in the presence of the Lord for eternity.

Jesus sat before the temple treasury. What did He see? He saw much more than we would - the hearts of all the people who made their offerings. He saw many squeeze out just a little of their abundant security in a gesture that was neither painful nor difficult. The act of fulfilling, or thinking they were fulfilling, a duty to God caused them to glow with self-satisfaction. Some were bloated with pride for having given so much, but to Jesus their act was empty of real self-giving. They gave with routine indifference. Their giving lacked love.

Only Jesus could have seen that a widow had given all she had. She trusted that God would look after her. She gave to God because she knew that He would continue to care for her. She had no other real desire but to be with Him and be enriched by Him. Her giving was serene and resigned, not despairing, but rather full of hope. She had the hope of one who knows deep down how much God loves her. How much do we trust and depend on Him, particularly when other securities begin to disappear?

What does Jesus see in our daily gifts? Do we generously give God our all when we see Him on the altar? Do we generously give Him our all when we are on our knees in prayer? Do we give Him our all on our feet at work?

Jesus shows the great importance of how we give - not only of what we give. What we have is given to us so that we can use it and give it back to God for everything is His. We give it as an expression of our love for God. We give Him our whole life when we work diligently, practice charity, pray and make sacrifices for love of Christ. All these acts of love are made into a gift to Jesus, when we mentally place them upon the paten along with the hosts to be consecrated at Mass.

‘What giving again,’ I asked in dismay.
‘And must I keep giving and giving again?’
‘Oh no,’ said the angel looking me through.
‘Just give till the Master stops giving to you.’

Lord Jesus, let us realise that all we have is what You have given us, and may we never cease to thank You for Your gifts through our self-giving. Let us always give back to You with all the love in our hearts all that You have given us.

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