This is one of those Sunday gospels I like to tune-out during Mass because it makes me feel guilty. I’m not like the widow who puts in all she has, I’m not even like the rich ones who put in from their surplus. I put my check in the basket when it comes down aisle, mostly as a duty, and the basket moves on.
But today, I don’t think Sunday’s gospel is about money. Today, it speaks to me about digging deep and giving all we have to God. And it can start with what seems the simplest act – prayer.
Strange as it seems to me, I’ve gone through periods in my life when my eyes opened in the morning and I was so grateful to get on my knees and thank God for my life and for this new day and however I could be helpful to Him. For long stretches, I have even devoted the entire first hour of my day to prayer, reading, and meditation. At the end of the day, I relished ending my day with God again, bookending the time with more prayer and meditation, mindful always of how I came through God’s grace to even be breathing on this planet.
These times of intense prayer – with so much joy and willingness on my part – seem almost otherworldly; another me, playing the part of the obedient daughter.
But today, I’ll admit, prayer is boring. It’s inconvenient and uncomfortable, and I don’t always know why I’m doing it except to say that I’m afraid to stop doing it, just in case it’s really working and I’m too self-absorbed to notice. I confessed my boredom to a good friend of mine, one who follows a spiritual path I admire. She shared with me, “When I can feel God during prayer, that’s His gift to me. When I don’t feel God and I pray anyway, that’s my gift to Him.”
In light of today’s Gospel, I can see that my willingness to give a full hour to God in the mornings – when I didn’t have to rush off to some appointment or meet some deadline or have the phone ringing off the hook – was like the rich giving to God from their surplus. When I have plenty of time, when I have hours falling off my day that lead to nothing, then it’s easy to devote some of it to God. But it’s days like these, when I’m busy, stressed, pulled in a million directions, that even giving two cents of ten minutes to connect with God at the beginning of the day might be worth more than the hours I’ve spent before. It’s the willingness to dig deep into my pockets – of time, money, gifts – that shows my continued devotion to following Christ.
Especially when I’d rather sleep in.
Felicia Schneiderhan is a Duluth-based freelance writer and a contributer to From the Pews in the Back.