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What Happened to My Coat?

December 3rd, 2012by Fr. Dave Endres

When I was a college student at Xavier University I was part of our campus’ St. Vincent de Paul Society. Every fall – right around this time of the year – we organized a coat and clothing collection. We always had a great response – lots of donations from faculty and staff, parishioners at Bellarmine Chapel, and some from going door to door in the neighborhood.

One year as the collection was ending, a friend of mine, Ed, and I took the coats and clothes to our dorm rooms for sorting and bagging. We then loaded all the bags into Ed’s car and dropped everything off. As we returned to the dorm room, I can remember feeling a sense of relief and accomplishment. We shared a certain satisfaction . . . until Ed looked around his room and asked the question: “Hey, what happened to my coat?” We didn’t wonder for long – Ed had made an unintended donation.

Of course, Ed got another coat. He didn’t have to endure too many chilly evenings without it. . . But it got as asking ourselves, what would it mean to give until it hurt? Not just from what was excess, not just giving what was used or worn or not wanted (like donating that can of Lima Beans to the food pantry because you dislike them), but what would it look like to REALLY give.

The Gospel passage commonly called the story of the widow’s mite (Mark 12:41–44; Luke 21:1-4) gives us a taste of that kind of sacrifice. Not an unintended donation (she gave freely) and not something she didn’t need (for “she gave from her poverty, she contributed all she had, her whole livelihood”).  

You might consider what it would be comfortable for you to give – maybe to the St. Vincent de Paul which does such wonderful work here, or to one of the many other worthy groups or causes. And whatever you think is comfortable to give – give that much – plus a little more.

Photo: Flickr/By Ed Yourdon

Fr. Dave Endres

Fr. David J. Endres is assistant professor of church history and historical theology at Mount St. Marys Seminary/Athenaeum of Ohio in Cincinnati.