Last Sunday's readings have some worthwhile lessons for us. The first reading from the Book of Kings tells the story of who was willing to help. Elijah first asked a poor widow woman for a cup of water, which he got, and then asked for some bread. She didn't have any baked, but promised the prophet she would feed him. She was short of food, but then Elijah told her she would never want again for food because of her generosity to him. That lady was rewarded for her kindness, as she had the blessing of God. When I am generous to the less fortunate, I also share in God's blessings. I can tell you most sincerely that I also have shared in God's generosity many times, when I have helped people in need in Africa, Ireland and in the good old USA. I have always maintained that when you help those people in need you can’t go wrong as you get the blessing of the poor.
The same message comes through in the Gospel message. Widows are a Bible favorite. Three of the Bible's books bear women's names- Esther, Judith and Ruth- two of whom are widows. Widows were looked upon as more powerless and unprotected than others, having to stretch and save their resources carefully without the husband upon whose intimate love they had come to depend.
In today's story of a poor widow, we don't even know her name. She sat in one of the temple courts where there were many collection boxes, each labeled for different temple needs. As in all times, many rich people put in large sums. The poor woman put in the two small coins- the "lepton", the smallest copper coin made, worth about 2% of a laborer's daily wage. She gave quietly, from a loving heart. That is all she had to give. The worth of an offering is in terms of the amount of self-giving involved. Too often the rich expect to be celebrated and commemorated for their giving. The poor, when they let their hearts be touched and share what little they have, often expect nothing in return. The widow's faith meant a great deal to her, she was not casual about it, and her commitment to it called forth generosity of spirit. Jesus said she put in more than all the other contributors.
I have a great story for you. A man named John received an automobile from his rich brother Paul as a Christmas gift. When he came out of his office, a poor street boy was walking around the shiny new car admiring it. "Is this your car, Mister?" he asked. John nodded. "My brother gave it to me for Christmas". The boy was astounded. “You mean your brother gave it to you and it cost you nothing? Boy, I wish…"
John knew what he was going to wish for. He was going to wish he had a brother like that. But what the boy said jarred Paul down to his heels. "I wish,” the boy went on, "that I could be a brother like that."
John looked at the boy in astonishment, then impulsively added, "Would you like to take a ride in my car?”
“Oh, yes, I'd love that.”
John smiled. He thought he knew what the boy wanted: to show his neighbors that he could ride home in a big car. But John was wrong again, "Will you stop where those two steps are?" the boy asked.
He ran up the steps. In a few moments John heard him coming back, but he wasn't coming fast. He was carrying his little crippled brother. He sat him down on the bottom step, then squeezed up against him and pointed to the car.
"There she is, buddy, just like I told you. His brother gave it to him for Christmas and it didn't cost him a cent and some day I'm gonna give you one just like it, then you can see for yourself all the pretty things in the Christmas windows that I've been trying to tell you about John got out and lifted the crippled boy to the front seat of his car. The shining-eyed older brother climbed in beside him and the three of them began a memorable holiday ride. That Christmas Eve, John learned what Jesus meant when he said, "It's more blessed to give.”
The power of the vote
The past week and a half has been memorable. On Nov. 6, we reelected the President, and elected the House and Senate. Some people were surprised at the results. However, we have learned one great lesson; the power of Democracy. One person, one vote, means that all voters are equal in the ballot box, whether rich or poor, black, white, yellow, green or any color you wish. My vote is equal of the vote of either the richest or poorest American. Some very rich people have learnt a very costly lesson, that money cannot buy an election. The people have spoken and let us hope we will get good and just leadership for the next four years; that the people in Congress will work together for the common good, in reviving the economy, creating many jobs, getting an answer to the complex problem of immigration reform, and protecting the weak members of our society. There are many problems to face but if we all work together we can make this country great again, and the world needs the leadership of a strong compassionate United States of America.
Our hearts go out to the many families who are suffering as a result of Hurricane Sandy and the recent Northeaster Storm. So many people suffered here in the New York coastal regions. I was shocked by what happened in the Rockaways, Breezy Point, Staten Island, New Jersey Coast, Long Island, and so many other areas. The response was hampered by the lack of telephone communication, as a result of electricity breakdowns, and by the lack of gasoline. It is amazing to see such a lack of fuel and such long queues in New York Metropolitan area. However the response of so many ordinary people to the plight of our fellow citizens was heartening. I was especially heartened by the way the Irish in Queens responded, especially the New York Irish Center, The "Dugout", the IBO people, and the many other concerned Irish men and women, the "Padded Wagon Co." which provided transportation and so many other groups all over the Metropolitan Area who did so much. So many parishes also have given help and all the churches in both the Diocese of Brooklyn and the Archdiocese of New York, are organizing collections for the needy and are collecting both warm clothing, canned foods and necessary items. It is great to see people helping other people in need. We all need to pull together for the common good. Let us hope that the example of helpfulness and cooperation will also extend to the powers that be, in Washington D.C.
On Wednesday , November 14, at 7.30 pm, there will be a special MASS OF REMEMBRANCE FOR THE DECEASED MEMBERS OF THE IRISH COMMUNITY, AT ST. MARY'S CHURCH, 70-31 48 AVE. WOODSIDE. We had a lot of deaths over the past year in the Irish Community, some rather tragic. So we will remember them all on Wed Nov. 14. at 7:30 pm. All are most welcome.