Sunday, November 11, 2012

Of Bacon and Blessings

Once upon a time, there was a small town in a small valley.  Outside of the town, there was a little farm with all sorts of animals: horses, cows, ducks, chickens, goats, pigs, cats and dogs - an all of the animals talked with each other (because that's what animals on a farm do).

One day, the pig and the chicken were talking about the little town and how neither of them had ever been there.  Therefore, they both agreed that they would leave the farm and take a trip to visit the little town.



When they got into town, they were amazed at all the sights.  They passed the barber shop and looked in at the man sitting in the chair and the other man attentively snipping away at the fur on his head.

"Interesting!" they said.

They passed the movie theater and were impressed with all the people lining up; but inside, they all just sat there in the dark while images flashed back at them from a big wall.

"Curious," they said.

The hardware store was next, and as they looked in the window they saw hammers and nails, rakes and  gloves, and ... the hatchet!

"We're not going in there," they agreed.

Finally, they came to the restaurant.  Looking through the front window, they saw all sorts of people happily chatting and sharing meals.  Waitresses ran back and forth delivering trays to everyone, and all were content.  In the front window, they read the sign: BACON AND EGG SPECIAL - $2.99.

"Sounds great," the chicken said.  "Let's check this out."

The pig looked at his friend.  "That's easy for you to say.  For you, it only requires a donation.  For me, its a commitment!"

Our readings this Sunday talk about that sort of commitment - of being "all in" - and it is good for us to reflect on it in our own lives.

In the First Reading from the Book of Kings, Elijah visits a own in a time of drought and famine.  The widow he encounters has nothing much left, and she is ready to expect the end for herself and her son.  When the prophet arrives and asks for water, the is ready to prepare this social hospitality. However, as she goes, he calls after her for some food as well.  The nerve of this guy!

"Look," she seems to say, "I don't know if you've notices, but I'm having a tough time here, buddy - all of us are.  I'm ready to give up and die, and you're asking me for bread as well?"

Elijah reassures her that if she does this kindness for him, as a man of God, God will bless her and provide for her, no matter what.  But it takes trust on her part.  It takes commitment.

In the Letter to the Hebrews, we read more about the transition from the old Levitical (Jewish) priesthood to the Priesthood of Jesus Christ.  The old priests would serve shifts in the temple, taking other people's offerings and presenting them on their behalf to God, who, in turn, blessed His people.  Now, the new Priesthood has arrived - one priest, Jesus Christ; one offering, Himself.  Jesus, who came to do the will of the Father, gave all that he is for our sake.  But that took trust.  It took commitment.

Finally, in the Gospel, Jesus praises the widow's mite, which represented all that she had.  While others gave what they had left, she gave what she had, and the Lord notices.  As she gives "her entire livelihood," Jesus reminds His disciples that this is the sort of trusting commitment that gives honor to God and brings about true blessing for His People.

During this time of year, many parishes do their stewardship appeal.  This is mine.  And it has less to do with the actual, physical gift as it does with the attitude of the givers.  The widows are held up for us today because of their trusting faith and their willingness to make that full commitment to God.  DO we have that trust?  Do we consider that commitment when we give - not just financially, but also of our time and talent?  Or, are we giving like the rich, who offer what is remaining after we've had our fill?

At that restaurant in that small town, the pig is asked to make a full commitment for the sake of the joy of the feast. In the temple, that Widow had to have considered her gift and what it would cost her. Here in our church, Jesus makes that full commitment as He offers us all of Himself in the Eucharistic feast.

Our response, and our prayer, should be one that we have carefully considered in light of our faith.  Do we trust God enough to commit in a radical way to Him? May we be blessed with a faith that does not count the cost; but, rather, one that trusts in the Giver of all good gifts, so we may fully enter into the feast, committed as disciples.

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