When we give from our hearts, regardless of the amount, we are giving what God truly wants from us.
by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
Today’s readings share the theme of freely giving—sometimes with uncertainty of what will happen as a result of it, and sometimes in complete confidence that we will be taken care of as a result. The widow of Zarapheth took care of Elijah out of her own poverty—she and her son had only a tiny bit of food left and then they would not have any way of getting more—when Elijah appeared needing help. The law of hospitality at that time required that she should feed him and her heart said that she should, too. As a result, they were taken through their hard time and blessed with more food than they could have had if they didn’t share.
The second reading speaks of Jesus’ free giving of himself for our salvation—it was such a perfect gift that it only had to be given once to be effective.
Then, in the Gospel, Jesus makes an example of the woman who lived on a very fixed income offering all that she had—her security, her retirement, her everything—to God with no fanfare and no apparent trepidation. She appears perfectly free—not just in her giving—but in her trust that God will provide for her. There’s a certain economy in giving when it comes from a place of love—free for the one who is given to because there are no strings attached, and free for the giver because they attach no strings. It’s where true joy comes from because it is how we are most like God.
You can read this Sunday’s readings here:
Break Open the Word with Your Family
Who is the most “giving” person you know? What sort of attitude do they have? Besides “giving”, what other adjectives would you use to describe them? Do you think you would want to be that way? Why?
Have you ever been given a gift with no strings attached? How does that feel different from when you are given a gift with conditions? There is a saying, “A gift that’s demanded is no gift at all.” This is how God loves us—by giving us gifts that we can either accept or reject without demand. It’s called “unconditional love.” In fact—we can’t earn salvation—we can only accept or reject it. We say “yes” by responding to the love offered by loving others the way Jesus loves us. Are you able to love and to give that way?
If you combine all of the stories today, you almost get the whole of what Jesus said is the path to salvation—the corporal works of mercy. In this Year of Mercy that is approaching, how can you live the corporal works more prominently in your life? How can you apply it to the way your family lives?
A little lectio
The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.
A little Bible study
Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:
- During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
- Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
- Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
- Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
- If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)
For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.
The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”