Last month we read the gospel passage about the rich man who justified himself before Jesus, hoping to hear that he was now ready for salvation.
“You lack one thing,” Jesus told him. “Go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”
He slunk away, seemingly unwilling to pay that high a price. Jesus was trying to tell him that giving all you have is the ultimate sign of faith and love. Jesus gave all he had when he was nailed to the cross. He did it out of love for us and out of faith that his Father would save us.
We are challenged to imitate Jesus in the way we live. That means giving all we have in terms of time, talent and treasure. That requires faith that God will more than make up the difference on our life’s ledger sheet for what we spend. The level of faith required to live by God’s accounting methods is modeled in today’s readings: by the widow whom Elijah asks to feed him with her last remaining scraps of food, by the widow whom Christ admires for putting her last cent into the treasury, and by Christ himself, as reflected in the letter to the Hebrews, when Paul wrote that unlike priests, who must constantly offer sacrifices, Jesus our high priest only had to offer one sacrifice for all because he gave his all:
“He has made his appearance once and for all, at the end of the last age, to do away with sin by sacrificing himself.”
When this parish started its “time and treasure” campaign a few years ago, and then followed up with the Catholic Charities Rooted in Faith, Forward in Hope campaign, asking for even more, many were indignant that they were being asked for so much—especially after being wounded by the recession. Today’s readings remind us that giving fearlessly never ends in a loss. In fact it sets us free.