I wasn't feeling very well this morning, so I gave a much shorter homily than usual. As best as I can remember what I said, here it is:
Whenever this Gospel passage is read, I think people immediately assume that the homily will be on stewardship: time, talent, and treasure. While that is a very logical reading of this passage, I think it misses the bigger picture of what Our Lord is telling us. We need to be willing to give totally of ourselves, even our very lives, with great joy while not seeking praise and recognition.
Our Lord is obviously very critical of the Scribes, and with good reason. Many of them would seek out ways to be recognized for their position, occupying seats of honor and making sure to be in highly visible locations. Instead of serving God humbly, they were seeking praise for themselves.
Our Lord tells us we must not be like this. Instead, we need to be like the humble widow who gave to the temple treasury what little she had. She didn't make a big show out of her giving, just did so humbly and joyfully.
Again, this is not just giving in the sense of stewardship, although it is important that we be willing to give of what we have. We need to be willing to give our time and abilities, but we can't just end with that. We need to give of ourselves so completely that we'd we willing to give our very lives.
This weekend, I had the opportunity to participate in the Good News for Marriage program, giving the priest's presentations. In one presentation, the couples are reminded that love is not an emotion, a mushy feeling that people feel for their beloved for a while, but fades in time. Instead, the couples are told that love is the total self-giving for the good of another.
This is the kind of giving that we need to have: a total self-giving for the good of another. In fact, St. Paul calls us to emulate Our Lord, who came “to take away sin by his sacrifice”. (Heb 9:28) We need to be willing to give everything we have and are, even our very lives if necessary, to serve the good of all, just as Our Lord was willing to give His very life for us. We need to do this giving without desiring fanfare or praise, not to receive recognition, but out of true humility and love for God and neighbor.