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
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
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.
With you a Christian, for you a priest