Tuesday, 16 August 2016

我们是否慷慨大方或是吝啬?

耶穌抬头观看、见財主把捐献投在银库里。 又見一个穷寡妇、投了两个小钱。 就说、我实在告訴你们。这穷寡妇、所投的比众人还要多。 因为众人都是自己有余、拿出来投在银库里。而这寡妇是自己的不足、把她一切的生活费都投上了。 
( 路 21:1 – 4 )

在今天的福音里,我们知道那位穷寡妇投了两个小铜钱进圣殿银库里。当时的两小铜钱在今天的社会里,简直小的可怜,也许相等于RM1.50。试问这笔钱能够买到多少东西?因此,那位穷寡妇所投入的是很微小的数目。不过,我曾经见过很多非常富有的教友,比那位穷寡妇富裕百倍,在献捐时,只投入RM1.00 而沾沾自喜。可是那穷寡妇所献的是她一天的生活费啊!

穷寡妇生活在困境中,可能都依靠邻居或别人的施舍来过活。不过,她不顾自己是否晚餐能的饱暖, 一心一意而其乐融融地奉献给天主。众人只看到富豪的慷慨大方,却不见那穷寡妇从她那破烂的衣袋里掏出两个小铜钱献捐给天主时所流露出的喜乐!虽然没人见到这情景,但是天主明察秋毫,耶稣看的很清楚。然后祂对门徒说,“你们大家都看到吗?”门徒们便往耶稣所指的方向看去,只见到那穷寡妇慢慢地离开银库。耶稣对门徒说,“ 那位穷寡妇比所有富翁所献捐的还要多!” 门徒对耶稣的话感到很惊讶。以为耶稣所说的是不可理喻;因为两小铜钱怎么能比得上富豪们所献捐的千千万万?大家都以为耶稣有些不对劲,不可理喻,懵懵懂懂,更是颠倒是非。

耶稣接着说,  “ 那些人所献捐的是他们财富的一部分,而那穷寡妇切付出了她的一却所有。”耶稣是否告诉我们要把全部的财富都献捐出来?当然没有!耶稣只不过要我们诚心奉献,并且量力而为。

所谓“量力而为”即是说衡量本身的财富然后根据自己的比例而捐献。“因 为 多 给 谁 , 就 向 谁 多 取 ; 多 托 谁 , 就 向 谁 多 要 。”( 路 12:48 )只要我们是诚心诚意而且乐意捐献的,又把它当着一种牺牲的奉献, 那就是主的祝福。当然我们的奉献不会在主面前赢得特别功劳,因为这毕竟不是一场比赛.不过,当我们每个人做任何奉献时,天主无时无刻地注意我们的举动。别人知道与否是不重要的;最好他们不晓得;只要天主看到就好了。 “ 你在 暗 中 施 捨 的 事 情, 你 父 在 暗 中 察 看 , 必 然 报 答 你 。”( 玛 6:4 )“量力而为”的另外一个意思叫我们不要小看自己微小的奉献,在天主的眼里,那是你最诚恳奉献了。因此,不要把“大就好”世俗观点和奉献给天主多与少来比较,只要问心无愧就好了。

很多时候我观察到一些穷的教友比那些富有的捐出更可观的数目。原因在哪里?很可能是因为穷者是爱的献捐而富有者是为了履行责任吧!穷人奉献时会感到吃力但是富有者通常都不会, 因为他们从来就不缺少钱。我们曾经遇到一些富豪献捐庞大数目是为了要控制教会和神父们;还要顺从他们的意愿去做, 要不然他们就会取消献捐。他们以为金钱可以使教会和神父们俯首称臣。万一类似的事情发生,那么教会就会失去了方针,不能再谛造天主的国,而是随那班人马为所欲为了。

最终,我们因该萌心自问,到底所捐献的是否合理?是否尽力而为了?所献捐的数目是否感到吃力?或是觉得太少或不够?(其实在现实生活里是足够的,而且还有余剩的。)我们不献捐因为天主“需要”我们的帮助。我们献捐物质来尊重祂。总之,无论数目多或少都是为了朝拜天主。圣保禄宗徒提醒我们说,“ 切莫忘记:少 种 的 少 收 , 多 种 的 多 收  。各 人 要 隨 自己 所 决 定 的 , 不 要 作 难, 不 要 勉 強 , 因为 捐 得 乐 意 的 人 是 主 所 喜 愛 的 。天主能 将 各 样 的 恩 惠 多 多 的 加 给 你 们 , 使 你 们 凡 事 常 常 充 足 , 能 多 行 各 样 善 事 。(格后9:6–10)

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Are We Generous or Calculative?

As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. "I tell you the truth," he said, "this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on."
- Luke 21:1-4

In this Gospel passage, the poor widow put in two very small copper coins into the temple treasury. In today's currency, two very small copper coins would have been considered as a pittance, approximately $1.50 in total. These days, you can hardly buy anything with $1.50, so what the poor widow gave seems to be a very small offering, but I've known many, many people - much better off than the widow - who put in $1 when the collection bag or plate is passed and feel good about themselves. But for the widow, this $1.50 is all she has.

The poor widow is destitute, probably living off the charity of her neighbours. She has just a tiny bit in her possession, but she wants to give it. It does not matter that she won't have food for the evening meal. She wants to give it. People are watching the rich depositing their large offerings. But no one sees the poverty-stricken widow, who reached into her rags to withdraw these two small copper coins and deposit them into the collection box. No one sees the look of joy on her face as she gives to God the little she has. No one sees. No one notices. But God notices, Jesus notices. And He says to His disciples - "Did you see that!?" They look over where He is pointing. All they see is a tired old widow shuffling away from the collection box. "She gave more than all of those rich people put together," Jesus tells them, and they look at Him in astonishment. What!? Such a pittance compared to the thousands the rich are giving, and Jesus says that the widow has given more? His disciples may have wondered: Has Jesus gone nuts? Lost His marbles? Lost track of reality? Gone cuckoo?

But Jesus continues. "All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on." Is Jesus telling us to surrender all our wealth here? Actually, no. What Jesus is actually trying to demonstrate to us is about proportional giving.

So what is proportional giving? In proportional giving, Jesus is teaching us that how much we give is in proportion and relation to how much we have: "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked" (Luke 12:48). Proportional giving means one is willing to make sacrifices joyfully and willingly, treating it as a blessing to give to God. Of course, we don't win extra points with God when we give sacrificially. This is not a contest. But know that when you make sacrifices for God, He is watching. It doesn't matter if no one else sees or knows, and perhaps it is better that they do not, but God sees and knows your giving. Jesus reminds us, "Your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you" (Matthew 6:4). Proportional giving also means that we should not despise our small gifts to God. Sometimes we fall under the worldly spell that "bigger must be better." That's not true of our giving to God. We are to give what we are able and as much as we are able, whether small or great.

But I notice that, many a times, the poor seem to give a substantially larger proportion of their income to God than the wealthy. Why is this? Perhaps the reason could be because the poor tend to give out of love, while the wealthy tend to give out of duty. The poor give till it hurts. The wealthy do not often give enough so that it ever hurts. Moreover, we may have come across some wealthy people who give generously, with the motivation to control the parish and the parish priest. What such persons want and expect is for the church and the parish priest to do things their way, or they may withhold their giving. Such persons think that they have the clout and power by using their money and wealth to manipulate the parish and the parish priest. But if we happen to be having such mentality, attitude or expectations, then are we trying to build God's Kingdom according to His Ways, or are we trying to build our own kingdom, where we can lord it over others and expect others to kow-tow to our whims and fancies?

Ultimately, perhaps the question we need to sincerely and honestly ask ourselves is this: are we giving our fair share? Is what we are giving proportionate to what we have? Are we willing to give till it hurts, or are we withholding our giving, thinking that what we have is too little or not enough (even though, in reality, we actually do have enough, sometimes more than we really need)? We don't give because God "needs" our contribution. We give in order to honour Him with our substance. Whether large or small, we give to worship God. As St. Paul reminds us: "Do not forget: thin sowing means thin reaping; the more you sow, the more you reap. Each one should give what he has decided in his own mind, not grudgingly or because he is made to, for God loves a cheerful giver. And there is no limit to the blessings which God can send you – he will make sure that you will always have all you need for yourselves in every possible circumstance, and still have something to spare for all sorts of good works." (2 Corinthians 9:6-10).

BO and MO during Confession?

Among the many challenges a padre has to put up with when it comes to confession, one which is just as potent and potentially pengsan-able...