The Pastor's Column

Fr. Maina

Integrity, Humility, Generosity

This week’s gospel suggests three concepts worthy of reflection: Integrity, humility, and generosity. I will reflect on these and then invite you to stewardship in imitation of the widow who, in my judgment, is the hero of this week’s readings.

Integrity is the quality of being oneself, undivided, complete, sound, incorruptible (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). In biblical usage, the word integrity refers to a clear conscience. When we act in clear conscience, we know we are doing what God wants us to do. Jesus admonishes the scribes for lacking integrity. Our prayer is that we do not become like the scribes. Both the Church and the world always hunger for integrity. Recent news showed that we, the leaders of the Church lacked integrity when it came to the clergy sex abuse crisis. With the conclusion of the midterm elections, we hope we’ve chosen leaders of integrity. Whether at work, in our homes, in the church, or in the political arena, our Lord urges us to live a life of integrity. The widow demonstrated integrity when she acted in clear conscience and gave what she thought she should.

A second concept to reflect upon is humility. St. Augustine once wrote that three things are necessary to enter into the Kingdom of God: First, humility, second, humility, and third, humility. This virtue may be one of the most difficult to develop in our Christian life. In his letter to the Philippians, St. Paul tells us that Jesus humbled himself and became obedient even unto death (2:8). We must be like Jesus and be obedient to the will of the Father. Archbishop Desmond Tutu is well known for his humility during the time of Apartheid in South Africa. On one occasion when he was preaching, military men came into the church to intimidate him and spy on the content of his sermon. The armed soldiers lined up on the sides of the church and everyone trembled in fear. In a calm voice, the archbishop welcomed the soldiers to the church and humbly invited them to join the worship because the worshippers were on the winning side. The widow in the gospel passage today also demonstrates a profound sense of humility. Though she was poor, she did not show low self-esteem but rather made her offering with humble devotion and reverence to God. She seemed to take no notice of who might have been watching her.

A third concept in today’s gospel is that of generosity. The word ‘give’ appears in the bible more than any other word. God is generous and if we are to live in the image and likeness of God, generosity must be part of who we are. God’s blessings depend upon the nature of giving. The giving has to be for temporal and spiritual benefits. We are to discern in faith if our giving helps both the recipient and us spiritually. The rich mentioned in the Gospel today gave, but their giving did not gain spiritual blessings. The widow, however, received abundant blessings.

In the spirit of this gospel, I invite you to consider and discern your spirit of giving to St. Catherine Labouré parish. Your Sunday offering is one way that you show the spirit of giving. I urge you to review and evaluate your habit of Sunday giving. Have you recently reconsidered how much you give every Sunday? In the last five to ten years, have you changed the amount you donate each week? Does it correspond to your level of generosity? If you study our weekly donation reports, the collection has remained the same or only slightly higher in the last ten years.

The gospel asks us to evaluate our life in terms of integrity, humility, and generosity. These three virtues transform our faith, make us mature in faith and help us to live Christian life fully. We pray that the Lord will give us the grace to live these virtues today and always.

You remain in my prayers during my spiritual retreat at the Ignatius retreat house in Atlanta. Please keep me in yours.

May God bless you and your family.

Fr. Maina
With you a Christian, for you a priest