Our first reading today is from Revelation 14. Here we see the hundred and forty-four thousand “who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.” This number, by the way, is symbolic. It means a great multitude. Some (like the Jehova’s Witnesses) take this number to be literal and say that that is the number of people who will actually make it to heaven.Â In the Gospel reading from Luke 21, a poor widow puts two small coins into the treasury of the temple.
Rich people were coming in and putting large sums of money into the treasury. Jesus took note of this and said, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those othersÂ have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, hasÂ offered her whole livelihood.” In other words, it was no big deal for the wealthy to contribute loads of cash, but the widow gave all she had. For her, it was a stretch…a big one.
We sometimes think we’re being so magnanimous when we give away a bunch of junk. Clean out your closets or your garage and make a delivery to Goodwill or Catholic Charities and we get warm fuzzies about ourselves. But it was no stretch. Maybe the lesson we can learn from today’s Gospel is that we need to give until it hurts. Maybe the spiritual life is like the physical world…no pain, no gain.
Father, forgive us for the times when we are stingy, when we only give You our feeble leftovers. Help us to give all. Amen.