Did you hear about the lady who was having a birthday? That morning, at breakfast, she told her husband that she had a dream. In that dream she was wearing a pearl necklace. She said to her husband, “I wonder what that dream means. I wonder what that dream means.”
The husband quickly said, “You will know by this evening.” That evening when the husband came home from work, he handed his wife a nicely wrapped package. Excitedly she opened it. There it was. A book titled, The Meaning of Dreams!
1) It has been a week of tragic news here in California, hasn’t it? First the shooting in Thousand Oaks, and then the devastating fires in Ventura County as well as Northern California. But amidst the tragedies are numerous stories of heroism, people sacrificing their time, energy and resources to help others.
It reminds us of our gospel today. The widow gave all she had. Sometimes firefighters, police and security guards are called to give everything, even their lives, protecting others. Tomorrow we remember our veterans, the people who gave their lives protecting our country.
There is a story about a farmer who was working in his field when an earthquake occurred in the ocean. His farm was on a hill. And from his hilltop view he could see the ocean swiftly withdraw, like some animal crouching for a leap. He knew the leap would be a tidal wave.
He saw his neighbors working in the low fields. They did not see the ocean recede and they were out of reach of his voice. Without a second thought, he set his barns on fire and furiously rang the farm bell. The neighbors saw his farm on fire and rushed up the hill to help him. Then, safe up the hill, they watched as the ocean water swirled over the fields where they had been working. For the rest of their lives they kept thanking the man, for he sacrificed all he owned that they might live.
2) Secondly, the news events remind us all how quickly life can change, how quickly life sometimes ends. Last year, thanks to Fr. Gerard, most of you received a copy of my book titled, The Ten Things You Must Do Before You Die. This book was written not just for the elderly facing death, but for all people, because we just don’t know the time or place. A shooting, a fire, drunk drivers, drivers texting, – death can happen sooner than we expect. We need to be prepared.
I won’t go over all ten things I wrote about in my book. But this would be a good time to make an examination of conscience based on the first three chapters.
Chapter One. Have I forgiven everyone?
Chapter Two. Have I thanked everyone?
Chapter Three. Have I told others how much I love them?
AndChapter Nine. Have I made efforts to get to know the Lord Jesus better?
It seemed that, in both our first reading and gospel, the widows were ready to face death. I suspect that they had forgiven everyone, thanked everyone and expressed their love, so that they were at peace with the prospect of death.
Both were very generous, too. So if they died, the last act of their lives was an act of generosity. They walked a mile in Jesus’ shoes, although they didn’t know it.
3) Thirdly, remember the story about the multiplication of loaves and fishes? There was a little boy who gave up his five barley loaves and two small fish so that Jesus could feed the 5000.
Legend has it that when the boy returned home he told his mother about the incident. He told her how his five barley loaves and two fish had multiplied in Jesus’ hands until there was enough to feed 5000. Then the boy said to his mother, “I wonder if that would happen with everything you gave him.”
Today’s gospel challenges us to reflect upon generosity. Not just generosity with money, but generosity with all riches that we possess.
We have been given a great treasure that is our faith. How well have we shared it?
How generous are we in giving the gift of good example?
How generous are we in giving the gift of kind words?
Have generous are we in giving encouraging words and words of praise?
How generous are we in giving from the treasury of our time?
Do we take the time to listen?
We have been forgiven. Do we give forgiveness to those who have hurt us?
Have we enriched the world with our prayers?
Yes, our readings today challenge us to be generous in giving of our time, energy and resources for the life of the world. We come here to Mass to offer ourselves to God. And then, like the barley loaves and fish, watch what God does with us.
We gather here on Sunday to remember that Jesus offered his life on the cross, gave his all, so that we would be saved and have fullness of life. Like the farmers who were saved from a tsunami, we are very grateful. We come here to Mass to say thanks.