We’ve talked before about how each of us has this “God-sized hole” in the depth of our being that can’t be filled by anything else; and we’ve talked about how each of us has a sense deep-down that our life is meant to be full, that our life is meant to have meaning and purpose, that we’re meant to be fully alive. But how does all this happen? The paradoxical answer is that we increase our life by giving it away. This is not only true for Christians but for all people, since every human being is made in the image and likeness of the God who is self-giving Love that brings life.
But thinking about this some more, it’s true that we don’t always feel like it. What about the times that we feel worn out? What about the times we feel too sad, too defeated, too unappreciated? What if we feel like we have no more to give? The answer in our Scriptures today is that we give.
We have passages today about two widows. The first was down to her last meal in a time of drought. Elijah asks her for some water and bread, and then even a little bit of cake. Yet while she’s at rock bottom, with nothing left to give, she gives, and God provides enough for her and her son and Elijah to eat for a year.
In the Gospel we have the famous passage of “the widow’s mite.” She gave to the temple (and thus to God) her last two pennies. She had nothing left to give. Yet Jesus praised her for giving everything. In this same passage, Jesus warns against the scribes. They are an example that if we keep trying to fill ourselves up by taking, it’ll never happen. We can keep trying to get more and more stuff, wealth, power, status, honor, and so on…but it will never be enough.
If we want love, we have to give love.
If we want peace, we have to give peace.
If we want joy, we have to give joy.
If we want faith, we have to give/share faith.
If we want life, we have to give of our life.
We’re filled up when we give. But this (with the example of our two widows) is not just what disciples do; we see this in Jesus Himself. As is says in Philippians 2, Jesus emptied Himself, taking on our human form, and was obedient even to death on a cross. Jesus gave everything over for us, and this is what brings us life and salvation, as we see in our passage from Hebrews.
And we encounter this in the Eucharist as well. In the Eucharist we not only are nourished with this special food and drink, but we have, in a sense, a “school” of giving, since what we receive is the Body and Blood of Christ offered on the Cross for us. Having Communion with the Giver, we learn to give as well, and this giving brings life.
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