November 7, 2021 – Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Nov 9, 2021 | Blogs, Fr. Luke, Homilies

Jesus sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury.  He said to his disciples, “Amen I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the others.”  Words from our gospel today from the 12th chapter of the gospel according to St. Mark – sisters and brothers, may the Lord give to you his peace & his joy.

Once Upon a Time, a Chicken and a Pig lived on a farm. The farmer was very good to them and they both wanted to do something good for him.  One day the chicken approached the pig and said, “I have a great idea for something we can do for the farmer! Would you like to help?” The pig, quite intrigued by this, said, “of course! What is it that you propose?”  The chicken knew how much the farmer enjoyed a good healthy breakfast especially since he often did not have time to make something up.  “I think the farmer would be very happy if we made him breakfast.  Perhaps we could provide him with ham and eggs.”  The pig, very mindful of what this implied, said, “that’s fine, but realize while you’re only making a contribution, I’m making a real commitment!”

Speaking of commitment, I want to take a moment here to acknowledge all the veterans, living and deceased, for their real commitment and generosity and the sacrifices they have made in service to our country.  The thoughts and prayers of us all go out to you, not just this coming Veteran’s day, but each day of the year.  Our veterans were ready to give over their own livelihood, their wellbeing, and their very lives for the sake of others, and for that we thank you.

Likewise, the widows from our readings today were less like the chicken and more like the pig.  Indeed, they gave over everything they had and made a real commitment to God and to others.  The widow met by the prophet Elijah in our first reading was really struggling to provide for her and her son.  After a severe famine struck the land, she had only enough flour and oil for one last meal, but after that her pantry was bare.  She had absolutely nothing to spare, and together with her son, was at the point of death from starvation.  But what little she did have she gave away, entrusting her fate to God.  And then there is the poor widow from our Gospel today who and donated two small coins.  While they had little monetary value, by the fact that they amounted to her life’s savings, and therefore her whole livelihood, Jesus recognized that she had by comparison put in more than all the others.  These widows didn’t give from their surplus, or what they could perhaps afford, but they gave it all; they gave away everything.  While others may ignore us or even exploit our struggles for their own gain, as the scribes referenced in our Gospel were known to do, God knows the hearts and minds of all.  God does see the good that we do, and truly appreciates the value of the widows’ contribution.  By God’s providence, the jar of flour does not go empty and the jug of oil does not run dry.  God will not be outdone in generosity.  God can take even what little we have, and turn it into our very salvation.

For us, this happens every time we come to celebrate the Eucharist.  To those who say, “I don’t get anything out of attending Mass,” Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen would answer, “It’s because you must bring something to it.”  In the prayers during the offertory of the Mass, the priest says: ‘pray brothers and sisters, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.’  This should give us pause to ask ourselves, ‘What is my sacrifice, what exactly is it that I am committing to be offered up to God in the Mass?’  In the offertory, we bring forward the bread and wine, yes, but we also bring the offering of our prayers for others, our sacrifices, our labors and sufferings of body and soul, our works of mercy.  We bring our vocations as a husband or wife, father or mother, our families, our joys and disappointments, our loneliness and our trials.  The offertory is more than just the collection.  Symbolically, we are bringing our everything to the altar.  When the gifts, the crucifix, and altar are incensed during the offertory, and the celebrant and the entire congregation are incensed by the deacon or another minister, it gives further image to how we are all united and offered up together in the one sacrifice of Christ that in the consecration.  In the words of Bishop Richard F. Stika: During the consecration, we sanctify our offering through him, with him and in him.  With the immortal words of Christ — ‘This is my Body… This is the Chalice of my Blood’ — we also participate in Christ’s offering, realizing in part that, ‘this, too, is my body… this, too, is my blood!’, and it is this longing from our hearts that cries out, ‘I am all Thine, My Lord and I give myself over in love to you!’ which best prepares us for Holy Communion along with the graces that we receive from it.[1]

So, our readings today further our understanding of what it means to be a disciple.  Disciples look more like the pig from our farm story and less like the chicken.  Disciples make sacrifices and are willing to put their lives on the line in service to others like our veterans.  Disciples, like the widows of our readings today, put God and others first.  Disciples follow in the footsteps of Jesus himself, who took up his cross and gave us his all in love for us.  Disciples are formed and grow in this life-giving commitment by their very participation in the Eucharist, and let that commitment carry over into their whole livelihood.  As the saying goes, he who does not sacrifice is hardly in love.  Last week, we were commanded to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength and love our neighbor as ourselves.  Disciples cannot simply be involved.  As Disciples, we need to be committed.  What does your discipleship look like?  How can I be better committed to my faith here at St. Mary’s?  Take a look at the bulletin this week for some ideas.  As it is, God wants to give us everything, but can only work with what we give over to Him.  Like the chicken and the pig, like our veterans, like the holy widows, like Jesus himself, let’s hold nothing of ourselves back, but become truly committed to this relationship of faith, knowing with great joy and hope in our hearts, that God will never be outdone in generosity.

 

[1] Adapted from a homily of Bishop Richard F. Stika, https://etcatholic.org/2018/06/he-dwells-among-us-my-sacrifice-and-yours/

Reading I

1 Kgs 17:10-16

In those days, Elijah the prophet went to Zarephath.
As he arrived at the entrance of the city,
a widow was gathering sticks there; he called out to her,
“Please bring me a small cupful of water to drink.” 
She left to get it, and he called out after her,
“Please bring along a bit of bread.” 
She answered, “As the LORD, your God, lives,
I have nothing baked; there is only a handful of flour in my jar
and a little oil in my jug. 
Just now I was collecting a couple of sticks,
to go in and prepare something for myself and my son;
when we have eaten it, we shall die.” 
Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid. 
Go and do as you propose.
But first make me a little cake and bring it to me. 
Then you can prepare something for yourself and your son. 
For the LORD, the God of Israel, says,
‘The jar of flour shall not go empty,
nor the jug of oil run dry,
until the day when the LORD sends rain upon the earth.'” 
She left and did as Elijah had said. 
She was able to eat for a year, and he and her son as well;
the jar of flour did not go empty,
nor the jug of oil run dry,
as the LORD had foretold through Elijah.

Responsorial Psalm

Ps 146:7, 8-9, 9-10

  1. (1b) Praise the Lord, my soul!
    or:
    R. Alleluia.
    The LORD keeps faith forever,
     secures justice for the oppressed,
     gives food to the hungry.
    The LORD sets captives free.
    R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
    or:
    R. Alleluia.
    The LORD gives sight to the blind.
        The LORD raises up those who were bowed down;
    the LORD loves the just.
        The LORD protects strangers.
    R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
    or:
    R. Alleluia.
    The fatherless and the widow he sustains,
        but the way of the wicked he thwarts.
    The LORD shall reign forever;
        your God, O Zion, through all generations. Alleluia.
    R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
    or:
    R. Alleluia.

Reading II

Heb 9:24-28

Christ did not enter into a sanctuary made by hands,
a copy of the true one, but heaven itself,
that he might now appear before God on our behalf. 
Not that he might offer himself repeatedly,
as the high priest enters each year into the sanctuary
with blood that is not his own;
if that were so, he would have had to suffer repeatedly
from the foundation of the world. 
But now once for all he has appeared at the end of the ages
to take away sin by his sacrifice. 
Just as it is appointed that human beings die once,
and after this the judgment, so also Christ,
offered once to take away the sins of many,
will appear a second time, not to take away sin
but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.

Alleluia

Mt 5:3

  1. Alleluia, alleluia.
    Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel

Mk 12:38-44 or 12:41-44

In the course of his teaching Jesus said to the crowds,
“Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes
and accept greetings in the marketplaces,
seats of honor in synagogues,
and places of honor at banquets.
They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext
recite lengthy prayers.
They will receive a very severe condemnation.”

He sat down opposite the treasury
and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury.
Many rich people put in large sums.
A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.
Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them,
“Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more
than all the other contributors to the treasury.
For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth,
but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had,
her whole livelihood.”

OR:

Jesus sat down opposite the treasury
and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury.
Many rich people put in large sums.
A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.
Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them,
“Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more
than all the other contributors to the treasury.
For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth,
but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had,
her whole livelihood.”