Surplus Wealth and Poverty

(November 11, 2018)

Bottom line: In a world of surplus wealth alongside terrible poverty. Jesus does not offer a political solution but something much deeper...

In praising the impoverished widow Jesus speaks about "surplus wealth" and "poverty". This contrast continues to plague our world and nation. Some have accumulated substantial - even excessive - wealth while others live in desperate need.

Members of our 2018 Peru delegation saw this contrast. As part of their participation in the Mary Bloom Center tutoring program they had the opportunity to visit some of the children's homes. A family of five lives in a one-room adobe hut. At night they spread a mat to sleep on their dirt floor.

A teenager in our delegation commented on how little the children have yet they seem happier than our children. We have so much yet we find plenty to complain and get upset about. In our society we have a wealth surplus and a happiness deficit.

Is there a way out of this dilemma? There is! Jesus presents a two-step plan. First recognize that for a disciple there is no such thing as surplus wealth. All that I have comes from God and belongs to him. The word "mine" is not part of our vocabulary. You and I came into the world naked and we will leave the same way. We need to keep reminding ourselves about that simple fact - and like Job say, "the Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the Lord!"

Once we acknowledge God's sovereignty we are ready for the second step: If everything belongs to God then I am simply an administrator - his steward. To do that I have to be thoughtful. Not impulsive, but thoughtful. Before I can, I must pray to ask God's light. Then form a plan - and follow through.

That's why we have our annual stewardship renewal. It's not just that the parish needs your support. We do, of course. We cannot fulfill our mission without your support. But even more important, you need to make an act of trust in God. You do that by making a thoughtful, proportional and planned commitment. It's amazing once we make that step, how much everything else falls into place.

In the Gospels we see that no one is so poor he has nothing to give. Jesus doesn't say to the widow, "you are foolish to give your last coin to the temple treasury. You need it more than they do". No! Jesus praises her. "From her poverty," Jesus says, "she has contributed all..."

You know, we Catholics have lost sight of the fact that Jesus calls every disciple to stewardship. In Latin America, when Mormons and Evangelicals make a convert, they teach him to tithe: to set aside the first fruits for God.

And you know what? Tithing brings blessings. When a person dedicates first fruits to God, he begins to prosper in unexpected ways. I've seen it over and over again, including in my own life. No one can outdo God in generosity.

For sure we live in a world of surplus wealth alongside terrible poverty. Jesus does not offer a political solution but something much deeper. Recognize that all we have and are comes from God. We are administrators of his wealth. For that reason Jesus praises the poor widow. Let's be like her. As Jesus says, she contributed all. Amen.


Spanish Version

From Archives (32nd Ordinary Sunday - Year B):

2015: Something for You Week 3: Abundance
2012: A Splendid Woman
2006: God Gives It All
2000: The Two Coins

Other Homilies

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)

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Other Priests' Homilies, Well Worth Listening:
Fr. Frank Schuster
Fr. Brad Hagelin
Fr. Jim Northrop
Fr. Michael White
Fr Pat Freitag (and deacons of St. Monica)
Bishop Robert Barron

Bulletin (St. Mary of Valley Parish)

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MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru