Meditation: What is true religion and devotion to God? Jesus warns his disciples against the wrong kind of religion. In his denunciation of the scribes (the religious experts of his day), he warns against three things: the desire for prominence and first place of honor rather than lowly service for the benefit of others; the desire for deference and recognition (and seeking esteem from others) rather than seeking to promote the good of others through humble service and selfless care for others; and thirdly, attempting to use one's position (even a religious position) for self-gain and self-advancement. True religion is relating rightly to God and to one's neighbor with love, honor, and respect. The Lord puts his Holy Spirit within us that we may be filled with the joy of his presence, the joy of true worship, and the joy of selfless giving and love for others. True reverence for God frees the heart to give liberally, both to God and to neighbor.
Love is more precious than gold or silver
Jesus taught his disciples a dramatic lesson in generous giving with love and devotion. Love doesn't calculate - it spends lavishly! Jesus drove this point home to his disciples while sitting in the temple and observing people offering their tithes. Jesus praised a poor widow who gave the smallest of coins in contrast with the rich who gave greater sums. How can someone in poverty give more than someone who has ample means? Jesus' answer is very simple - love is more precious than gold!
Real giving comes from a heart full of gratitude
Jesus taught that real giving must come from the heart. A gift that is given with a grudge or for display loses most of its value. But a gift given out of love, with a spirit of generosity and sacrifice, is invaluable. The amount or size of the gift doesn't matter as much as the cost to the giver. The poor widow could have kept one of her coins, but instead she recklessly gave away all she had! Jesus praised someone who gave barely a penny - how insignificant a sum - because it was everything she had, her whole living. What we have to offer may look very small and not worth much, but if we put all we have at the Lord's disposal, no matter how insignificant it may seem, then God can do with it and with us what is beyond our reckoning. Do you know the joy and freedom of giving liberally to God and to neighbor with gratitude and love?
"Lord Jesus, all that I have is yours. Take my life, my possessions, my time and all that I have and use them as you desire for your glory."
This reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager, whose website is located at: http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/