How to Serve More Meaningful than What to Serve
(see Mk 12:38-44)
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
The Gospel story of this Sunday tells us the better way to serve God and our neighbor.
What the poor widow gave in support of the temple was appreciated as her wholehearted contribution, whereas what the others gave was just their surplus wealth. The offering to be made in the Lord God’s worship should be the best among the gifts which we human beings could prepare. Our offering to God represents our love of and gratitude to Him Who so loved us that He not only created us in His image, but He also gave us His Only Son to save us from sin and death. The offering to God our Lord and Savior should not be an exchange of interests, as if there were a trade between what we give to God in return for what we have received from Him. Such calculation does not deserve being termed “service”, much less “worship” simply because we, as created and limited beings, can never render a worthy service to the Lord God of heaven and earth. Psalm 24 reads:
The Lord’s are the earth and its fullness;
The world and those who dwell in it.
He founded it upon the seas
And established it upon the rivers.
God is the Master of the universe which He made and which belongs to Him alone. We, too, owe Him all that we have and all that we are. Absolutely speaking, we can claim nothing in this life to be ours in order to offer God in return for countless blessings which He gave us.
Again, Psalm 116 teaches us:
How can I repay the Lord,
For all the good done for me?
I will raise the cup of salvation
And call on the name of the Lord.
Yes. This is the only thing which we can do to repay for the blessings which we have received from Him Who loved us and Who is so generous that it is always for us to say thank you. All the days of our life, Sisters and Brothers, should be just a “thank you” to the heavenly Father, the so loving and caring Father in heaven.
And the Prophet Hosea explains further:
I desire mercy not sacrifice.
What for if we offer the Lord God expensive gifts, and money, and possessions, but in our real life we do not practice the lesson of our heavenly Father Who is merciful, and for giving, and loving? When we treated one another not in the same way God treated us when we were still sinners, when we were still enemy because we did not obey him, we did not observe His Commandments, and still He so loved us that he came to us in the person of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to raise us up, and to forgive our sins and to even lift us up to the position, the dignity of the children of God. So, what can we repay the Lord for such great blessings? It can be only from the bottom of our heart a “thank you.” And also we should practice this merciful love lesson toward one another as He taught us: “Love one another as I have loved you.” This is the best gift which we can offer the Lord in return for His great love for us. So, from this Sunday’s Gospel story we can come to this conclusion: the best service we can offer God our Father is not what we offer Him, what we serve Him but rather how we offer Him and how we serve Him. Again we remember what our Lord Jesus said to His disciples: “This poor widow gave all her life, all her livelihood whereas the other people gave just their surplus wealth.” We pray hard in this Holy Mass so that we can know how to serve the Lord God, the loving and caring Father, Who always gives and receives nothing else than our love and gratitude, and that we should practice this lesson of merciful love in our everyday life toward one another.
Fr. Francis Nguyen, O.P.