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The Gift Worth Giving

First Reading: Daniel 1:1-6, 8-20

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah,
King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came
and laid siege to Jerusalem.
The Lord handed over to him Jehoiakim, king of Judah,
and some of the vessels of the temple of God;
he carried them off to the land of Shinar,
and placed the vessels in the temple treasury of his god.The king told Ashpenaz, his chief chamberlain,
to bring in some of the children of Israel of royal blood
and of the nobility, young men without any defect,
handsome, intelligent and wise,
quick to learn, and prudent in judgment,
such as could take their place in the king’s palace;
they were to be taught the language and literature of the Chaldeans;
after three years’ training they were to enter the king’s service.
The king allotted them a daily portion of food and wine
from the royal table.
Among these were men of Judah: Daniel, Hananiah,
Mishael, and Azariah.But Daniel was resolved not to defile himself
with the king’s food or wine;
so he begged the chief chamberlain to spare him this defilement.
Though God had given Daniel the favor and sympathy
of the chief chamberlain, he nevertheless said to Daniel,
“I am afraid of my lord the king;
it is he who allotted your food and drink.
If he sees that you look wretched
by comparison with the other young men of your age,
you will endanger my life with the king.”
Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief chamberlain
had put in charge of Daniel, Hananiah,
Mishael, and Azariah,
“Please test your servants for ten days.
Give us vegetables to eat and water to drink.
Then see how we look in comparison with the other young men
who eat from the royal table,
and treat your servants according to what you see.”
He acceded to this request, and tested them for ten days;
after ten days they looked healthier and better fed
than any of the young men who ate from the royal table.
So the steward continued to take away
the food and wine they were to receive, and gave them vegetables.
To these four young men God gave knowledge and proficiency
in all literature and science,
and to Daniel the understanding of all visions and dreams.
At the end of the time the king had specified for their preparation,
the chief chamberlain brought them before Nebuchadnezzar.
When the king had spoken with all of them,
none was found equal to Daniel, Hananiah,
Mishael, and Azariah;
and so they entered the king’s service.
In any question of wisdom or prudence which the king put to them,
he found them ten times better
than all the magicians and enchanters in his kingdom.

Responsorial Psalm: Daniel 3:52-56

R. (52b) Glory and praise for ever!
Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever;
And blessed is your holy and glorious name,
praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages.
R. Glory and praise for ever!
Blessed are you in the temple of your holy glory,
praiseworthy and glorious above all forever.
R. Glory and praise for ever!
Blessed are you on the throne of your Kingdom,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.
R. Glory and praise for ever!
Blessed are you who look into the depths
from your throne upon the cherubim,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.
R. Glory and praise for ever!
Blessed are you in the firmament of heaven,
praiseworthy and glorious forever.
R. Glory and praise for ever!

Gospel: Luke 21:1-4

When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people
putting their offerings into the treasury
and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins.
He said, “I tell you truly,
this poor widow put in more than all the rest;
for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth,
but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.”

NAB

nov 22 (1)

Such a simple passage, yet it holds so much truth. The simple story of the poor widow giving her all, when she had so little to give.

This was one of the first Bible stories I remember as a child outside of Noah, the Garden of Eden, and the Nativity Story. I remember being so proud when I had a dollar of my own to put in the basket on Sunday morning. I often wondered if Jesus was smiling down on me the same way He had smiled at that woman thousands of years ago.

But it’s not just about money. Of course it is about money; it would be wrong to ignore the straightforward fact that we’re supposed to give and support our churches, parishes and ministries financially. That we’re not called to have vast reserves of wealth sitting around unused when others are needy. However, it is about more than money.

We hear it a lot in Catholic Churches—it’s not just about tithing a certain amount or percentage—it’s about giving yourself across the board.

Time. Talent. Treasure.

It’s not just about going without a couple cups of coffee when an extra second collection comes around.

It’s about inviting people into your house and your lives.

It’s about cooking meals and offering rides.

It’s about volunteering, teaching classes, and organizing events.

It’s about joining that ministry.

It’s about realizing what you need is different than what you want.

God wants us to give all of ourselves, not just what can be spare and not just what looks impressive.

In a few days it will be the American holiday of Thanksgiving followed closely by the busiest shopping days of the year. Regardless of sales and deals and wishlists there are still people out there cold and hungry. The parish, your family, and your friends do not stop needing your time and talents because the holiday season is here.

This is not to chastise people who have a good time in the stores on the weekend after Thanksgiving; the ones who make a family event of it or plan to get all that done within one day to savour the Advent season or those whose schedules fill up over the next four weeks. It’s just a reminder that God never stops calling us to give just because of a good deal or a holiday season.

We do not get a free pass on our true calling to those around just because the lights are being strung and the carols are starting to play.  Remember this year that the gifts we are truly meant to give do not always fit inside a box under a tree.

How can you be like the widow this holiday season?

photo by Corynne Olivia

Molly Walter is a wife, mother and homemaker (with a pesky job outside the home).  She shares about making the life she wants with the life she’s been given over here.

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