Posts Tagged ‘11-7-2021’

Thanks Givers 11-7-2021

Sunday, November 7th, 2021

Two years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, a
remarkable woman was born in New York City. Her name was
Elizabeth Bayley.
At the age of 20 she married a businessman named William Seton.
Neither she nor William was Catholic. In time the couple had five
Then tragedy struck: William contracted tuberculosis.
William moved his family to Italy, hoping that the climate would
help him. But his illness was terminal. He died a few years later.
With the help of a generous Italian family, the Setons moved back
to the United States. The goodness of that Italian family led the young
widow to investigate the Catholic Church. Two years later she became a
Elizabeth’s relatives and friends were shocked. They virtually
disowned her, and she was forced to get a teaching job to support her
five children. To make a long story short, when the children came of age, Elizabeth became religious and founded the American branch of the
Sisters of Charity. It was this order that pioneered the great Catholic
school system in America.
Elizabeth once told a friend, “I’d like to retire from the turmoil of
the world and lead a simple life of prayer, but God wants me to do
something else, and I must always choose God’s will over my own.”
Elizabeth died at the age of 46. In her lifetime she wasn’t a mystic.
She wasn’t a martyr. She was simply a widow who gave what she had
to God. She was simply a single parent who turned a tremendous
tragedy in her life – the loss of her husband and the rejection of her
family – into a spectacular gift to God and to the Church.
How fitting it was, then, that in 1975 Elizabeth Seton was
canonized the first American-born saint.
The story of this generous widow fits in beautifully with today’s
Scripture readings. For two of those readings are also about generous
The first reading concerns a widow who shared with the prophet Elijah all the food she had to live on. The gospel reading concerns a widow who gave to the Temple of Jerusalem all the money she had to
live on.
Like Elizabeth Seton, each of these two widows gave with the
same generous heart. Each had a perfectly legitimate reason to excuse
herself from giving, but each refused to exercise that excuse.
Like Elizabeth Seton, each knew that the important thing was not
what she had to give but the love with which she gave it.
Each knew that what counted in God’s eyes is not the size of the
gift but the size of the giver’s heart.
Someone once said that there are three kinds of givers: grudge
givers, duty givers, and thanks givers.
Grudge givers say, “I hate to give.” Duty givers say, “I ought to
give.” Thanks givers say, “I want to give.”
In other words grudge givers give reluctantly and with a certain
feeling of resentment.
Duty givers give reluctantly too, but with a certain feeling of
obligation. Thanks givers, on the other hand, give from the heart, without any feeling of resentment or obligation. The three widows are beautiful
examples of thanks givers.
They gave under no pressure.
They gave under no obligation.
They gave from the heart.
The stories of the three widows invite us to ask ourselves how we give.
Do we give grudgingly because we have to – because we will be
embarrassed or thought less of it if we don’t give?
Do we give dutifully because we feel obligated or required to do
Or do we give thankfully because our love and our faith tell us to
give – just as the love and the faith of the widows told them to give?
Listen with me –
Let’s close with a brief meditation on God’s own generosity in
giving to us:
We ask for a flower, and God gives us a bouquet.
We ask for leaf, and God gives us a tree.
We ask for a drop of water, and god gives us an ocean. We ask for a grain of sand, and god gives us a beach.
We ask for a blade of wheat, and God gives us a wheat field.
We ask for something to eat, and we are given God’s own Life.
With God what counts the most – is not the size of the gift, but the size
of the giver’s heart.