These Dead Presidents Speak . . . for Better or for Worse
“Money doesn’t talk...it screams.” ~ Clara Luper
The term “money talks” had become such a common part of our vernacular that I‘d venture to say it doesn’t even needs an explanation as to its definition. Truth be told, you’d be hard-pressed to find even one facet of our culture that isn’t controlled by money; in the business world and politics of course, where money has and always will reign supreme, but in recent years the folding paper has relentlessly permeated and subsequently placed a stranglehold on the arts, higher education, the world of sports and yes, even the church has, at times anyway, capitulated to the almighty dollar.
In our Gospel today (Luke 21:1-4), which I’ll include in its entirety due to its brevity, money speaks loudly and clearly as well:
“When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins. He said, "I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.”
Yes, the poor widow in today’s Gospel allowed her money to speak for who she was and what she believed.
Her message to the world? Jesus is Lord.
She gave everything she had, just as Jesus gave everything he had by way of his ministry, his devotion to his flock, and ultimately in stretching his arms out on the cross. How could she give away her last coin? Where would she sleep, how would she eat? She knew that somehow, someway, God would provide. Faith.
In his daily reflection today, Bishop Barron draws a parallel between the story of the poor widow to that of the foolish rich man in Luke’s Gospel (Luke 12:16-21). When this man’s barns were filled with all his possessions, he decided to tear them down and build bigger ones. He failed to realize that he already had everything he needed to be happy. He fell victim to the utter futility rooted in the false belief that wealth can secure prosperity and in the process, provide one with a great life. Bishop Barron goes on to conclude that “What makes you happy is always right in front of you, because what makes you happy is love. Love is willing the good of the other, opening yourself to the world around you. Love is not a feeling. It’s an act of the will. It is the great act of dispossession.”
Dispossession can of course take many forms. Saint Catherine of Alexandria for instance, whose Feast Day we celebrate today, would go on to become one of the “14 Holy Helpers,” martyred in the early 4th Century at the hands of the pagan emperor Maxentius. The prophet Daniel in our 1st Reading today (Daniel 1:1-6, 8-20) teaches us dispossession by way of his discipline and strict obedience to God.
I’d like to leave you today with a quote from Saint Francis of Assisi, who had this to say in the topic of dispossession:
“Let us have charity and humility, and give alms, for almsgiving cleanses our souls from the filth of sin. At death we lose all that we have in this world, but we take with us charity and the alms deeds we have done, and for these we shall receive a great reward from God.”