Love until it hurts

In the Gospels of Mark (12:41-44) and Luke (21:1-4), we find the story of a widow who, although making an offering of only two small coins, was commended by Christ as giving more than the large sums given by the rich; that is because the rich gave from their surplus, while the poor widow offered her whole livelihood. 

Does this mean that we ought, as one expression says, “to give until it hurts”? That saying has been attributed to Mother Teresa since she used it nine times in her speech at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. in 1971. Many pastors have used this saying to motivate people to give financially, but if we read her speech carefully, then we will find out that she wasn’t even talking about money.

In her speech, Mother Teresa said that the meaning of true love is “to give until it hurts,” and that one must be willing to give whatever it takes and to go out of one’s way to do good to others and not to harm them. One example she gave was regarding old people whose sons and daughters have put them in an institution. They had everything – good food, comfortable place, television – everything. But they all kept looking at the door. Not a single one had a smile on their face. They kept hoping that a son or daughter will come to visit them. There may be someone in our family who is feeling lonely, sick or worried. Are we willing to give until it hurts, in order to be with our families? Or do we put our own interests first?

Mother Teresa also asked, “How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love, and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing “to give until it hurts.” Jesus gave even His life to love us. So the mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love – that is, “to give until it hurts” her plans, or her free time, to respect the life of her child. The father of that child, whoever he is, must also ‘give until it hurts.’”

In the same way, when we do whatever it takes, or go out of our way, or put our own interests aside, in order to do something good for someone else, then according to Mother Teresa, we “give until it hurts” because we are giving up something else in the process. Therefore, the saying “to give until it hurts” does not mean that we have to feel pain when we give. A lot of people feel joy when they “give until it hurts.”

The point of the story of the poor widow is not to belittle the large donations of those who are wealthy, but so that we may realize that small offerings coming from those who do not have much can be just as worthy or even worthier. Regardless of the amount, and regardless of whether it is given by someone who is rich or poor, the more a person gives up in order to offer something, the worthier the offering. Just imagine giving money to charity when you need to use it for yourself, or doing something kind for someone in spite of needing kindness from others. Now that is what it means to “love until it hurts.”

Fr. Lou Aldrich will conduct an online Advent retreat. The date and time has not yet been finalized. Our parishioners can register to join via ZOOM. This time around, there is an option for those of you who prefer to join in as a group, we will set up the big screen in the sanctuary. The retreat will be about the messages of the Blessed Mother in Fatima and Akita. 

Please drop your donations for Giving Tuesday in the collection during Mass or in the donation box.

Immediately after Mass today, Fr. Bill will celebrate the Anointing of the Sick in the main church.

Prayer List:Shuang-san Wang、Bo Hao Pan、Winnie Lee、Leslie Tsui、Judy SuRaymond Yee、Catherine Jen。