Gathering the Sheep
NOVEMBER 11, 2018
My Dear Parishioners,
In the bible, widows personify poverty, helplessness and noth-ingness. Thus for a widow to part with whatever she has de-mands total sacrifice and a sense of total abandonment to God’s providence. In the first reading, the widow, not knowing where she will get her and her son’s next meal, offered Elijah the last of her food. Her unselfish act was greatly rewarded by God: “Her jar of flour did not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry; and she and her son was able to eat for a year.”
The saying “No one is so poor that she or he cannot give” is never truer in the case of the poor widow in this Sunday’s gospel. She wanted to give, and she did, not al-lowing her poverty to prevent her from doing so. She could have used her own pov-erty as a reason not to give, as some of us are wont to do, but she did not. Instead, with a generous heart, she dug into the depth of her emptiness and from it, she fished out her “treasure” of two coins—the smallest and least valuable coin during that time—and selflessly gave them away. Her action prompted our Lord Jesus to comment that “she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole liveli-hood.”
Reflecting on the story of the poor widows, I ask these questions: Why should we give? What do we get out of giving? Why is giving better than receiving? Why is giving enriching? Why is it that the more we give, the more we receive, the more we are fulfilled? What holds us back from giving unselfishly?
Let me share with you these excerpts I got from an article titled the Joy of Giving:
“We all know how great it feels to receive gifts. However, the joy of getting is short-lived. Our lives are richer when we share, and that great inner joy comes from help-ing others to better their lives. Truly giving from the heart fills your life with joy and nourishes your soul. Giving provides an intrinsic reward that’s far more valuable than the gift. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “To find yourself, lose yourself in the ser-vice of others.”
Giving takes you out of yourself and allows you to expand beyond earthly limita-tions. True joy lies in the act of giving without an expectation of receiving some-thing in return.
Academic research and thousands of years of human history confirm that achieving meaning, fulfillment, and happiness in life comes from making others happy, and not from being self-centered.
When people are asked why they give, the readiest answers include: God wants me to; I feel better about myself; others need, and I have; I want to share; it’s only right. The question I would ask is how did you feel? I imagine you felt very pleased with yourself and happy inside.
It has been my experience that when you’re focused on giving to others you’re less likely to become consumed by your own concerns and challenges. Giving provides an opportunity to look beyond our own world and see the bigger picture.
A great perspective can be achieved by stepping out of our own world and venturing into the world of other people. Your worries and challenges may not seem as signifi-cant when compared to other people’s situations.
The act of giving kindles self-esteem and brings happiness. Scientists have discov-ered that happiness is related to how much gratitude you show. After several years of soul searching, I discovered that my unhappiness was due to my want for things to fill the void of loneliness.”
My dear brothers and sisters, let us not forget that no one is so poor and deprived that he or she cannot give. Let us pray that we may always find joy in giving. Do not be afraid to give. God will take care of you.
Prayers and blessing,
“Praying as a Family”
In ways large and small, parents seek what is best for their children. This desire is expressed in a variety of practical ways every day, such as preparing healthy foods, ensuring adequate opportunity for sleep, teaching good manners, and sharing enriching activities as a family. Incorporating prayers of blessing into your family’s daily routine is another way to express this desire for the very best for your children. When we pray for God’s blessing, we acknowledge that God is the source of all that is good. In prayer, we ask God to bless us, to bless others, and to bless our activities. We do so with confidence and trust in God, who also seeks what is best for each of us. To pray in blessing for our children is to join our desires for them with God’s own desire for them. Daily life provides parents with many opportunities to offer prayers of blessing with and for their children.
Bedtime Blessings—As part of bedtime prayers, invite your child to name the people he or she would like to pray for. This can take the form of a simple litany, praying, “god bless…” as your child names family and friends. As your child grows older, you might offer a simple prayer intention for each person as you pray. For example, if a sibling is sick, you might ask for God’s healing presence, praying, “God bless (name) and help her/him to feel better soon.” Later, you might suggest that your child offer the prayer intention. Conclude by praying your own prayer of blessing for your child as you trace the Sign of the Cross on your child’s forehead.
Morning Blessings—Even in the most organized households, mornings can become a frenzy of activity as family members prepare to leave for work, day care, school, and daily errands. Establishing a morning routine that includes a prayer of blessing for family members as they leave the home can help to strengthen and encourage each person to live faithfully as a follower of Jesus. Ask each family member to name par-ticular challenges or activities he or she may face during the day, and pray together, asking God to bless each person and his/her activities. Parents can trace the Sign of the Cross on each child’s forehead in blessing before leaving the house each day.
Mealtime Blessings—The importance of gathering for family meals cannot be over-stated. Not only are meals important for providing daily nourishment, but they are also occasions for strengthening our spirits by connecting with the people who are most central to our lives.
Meals are natural occasions for prayers of blessings. We pray in thanks to God for his goodness to us. We ask God to bless our food and make our lives a blessing to others. Pray together Grace Before Meals and Grace After Meals. Mealtime can also be an opportunity to ask family members to name the good things that God has shared with them throughout the day and to pray together in thanksgiving.
Blessings in Times of Transition and Difficulty—God walks with us through the challenges and difficulties of life. Prayers of blessing call forth God’s protection and remind us of God’s faithfulness. We can ask for God’s blessing when we make deci-sions, large and small, and pray for family members and friends who are discerning life choices about new jobs, college choice, vocation to marriage, or religious life. We can pray for God’s blessings when we move to a new home. We can ask God to bless those who are sick and offer prayers of blessing together when family members are sick. And we pray for God to bless those who are near death and those who have died.
Incorporating Items Blessed for Prayer—The Church has a rich sacramental tradi-tion. Holy water and blessed candles can be brought into the home and used for fami-ly prayer. Crosses, crucifixes, rosaries, statues, and icons can be blessed by a priest, making them holy reminders of God’s power and presence in our lives. Display these sacred objects in your home and make them focal points for your family prayer.