07Nov Sunday November 7, 2021. Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday, November 7 2021
Thirty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

(1) 1 Kings 17:10-16

The widow of Zarephath shares the last of her food with Elijah

Elijah set out and went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the town, a widow was there gathering sticks; he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, so that I may drink.” As she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” But she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jug; I am now gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go home and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”

Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterwards make something for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord the God of Israel: The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the Lord sends rain on the earth.”

She went and did as Elijah said, so that she as well as he and her household ate for many days. The jar of meal was not emptied, neither did the jug of oil ail, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.

(2) Hebrews 9:24-28

Christ our High Priest opened for us the door of salvation

Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, but he entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself again and again, as the high priest enters the Holy Place year after year with blood that is not his own; for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Gospel: Mark 12:38-44

The offering of the widow had great value in God’s sight

As he taught, Jesus said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honour at banquets! They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

Christian mercy

In the upcoming Year of Mercy we could look at how we are practising the Christian virtue of mercy? Statistics can first be quoted about trends in the Church: about the drop-off in sacramental practice and Mass attendance, about vocations to priesthood and religious life, and the difficulty of involving young people in Church-based activities. And then comes the question: Is Catholicism in decline in the developed world? If we define “decline” by irregular attendance in Church and the ignoring of hierarchical authority, the answer must be Yes, we seem to be in serious decline. This challenges all of us, priests and people alike: How to make our Church a more welcoming place, where people who have drifted away would feel more cherished, cared for and understood. But there is another side to practising the faith, as alive today as at any time in the past.

Today’s Scripture tells of a poor widow who showed mercy in the form of practical compassion, by sharing her last crust with the prophet Elijah. Was she practising the faith? Very much so, yes, because she did what Jesus expects of us . I was hungry and you.. If you give a cup of water in my name .. Then that other poor woman in the Temple, who quietly put in her last savings so that God would be properly worshipped, was she practising the faith, through a work of mercy? Yes, she followed the generous impulse of her heart Whoever gives whole-heatedly of himself/herself to a worthy cause is following the example of Jesus, whether they are aware of it or not. They have the blessing of God and are promised their reward.

We need to make sure that our idea of “practising Catholic” includes these vital qualities of compassion and generosity. Indeed, sharing in the Mass and the sacraments is only genuine if it prompts us to loving mercy of this kind. We also need our Church leaders to engage with us in open dialogue on sensitive points of sacramental discipline which many church members perceive as arbitrary impositions by authority, rather than as life-values arising from the spirit of the Gospel. Today in this Eucharist we re-commit ourselves to practice the faith in the way that really counts: by giving of ourselves as Jesus did.

The Cheerful Giver

“It’s all taking and no giving!” as Dolly Parton belted it out, in the Film: Working Nine to Five, and her next line was to mock that way of life: “What a way to make a living!.” Today’s Scriptures point to another way. The good life manages to blend gracious taking with cheerful giving, and the value is in the giving. It’s our giving that is recorded in the Book of Life. Jesus is the Great Giver: that we may have life, and have it to the full [Jn 10:10.] As a fine example of this kind of mutual help, we have hear how Elijah and the widow of Zarephath helped each other to survive. During the famine she shares the last of her food with the starving prophet. She gives without hesitation, and is blessed in return. In the Gospel Jesus says, in effect, “Give from the heart.” The widow’s offering to the Temple might seem small in the eyes of other donors, but it was whole-hearted and therefore priceless in value. Generosity is not the exclusive prerogative of the rich. The poor have great gifts to share too, and when they do so, others should respond with appreciation.

Gifts from ordinary people support many projects and causes in the Catholic Church, just as they kept the Jerusalem temple going in Jesus’ day. It is a strange, but at the same time common truth, that generosity is more widespread among those who have little to spare than among those who have lots of money and property. But let’s recall today that all donations made for the glory of God share in Jesus warm praise of the woman who “gave all she could.” This story of the Widow’s Mite invites us to examine the quality of giving in our lives — not just to Church collections, but to whatever worthy cause attracts our attention and our sympathy. More than once, Jesus spoke about this subject. Not only should the gift he made with a generous heart, but so far as possible in an anonymous, non-fussy way, so that “the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.” The thing should be done because it is right, with the intention of pleasing God rather than winning credit or praise from others. And the more it costs us in personal terms — giving up some of our time, or our comfort, for something worthwhile — the more it is part of the one great sacrifice of Christ, who gave himself totally for us.

Saint Paul coined the phrase “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:6-7.) And there can be no doubt that the cheerful gift is more acceptable even among people on a everyday level. The hospitality shown to the famished prophet Elijah by the poor widow in the town of Sidon, was all the more precious in that it was given with loving respect, and not as a grudging duty. Here was a man of God, clearly in need of help. There was no need for long, involved argument about how he had gotten into this position, or whether he had drawn up a wiser plan for his future. She did what she could for him, and was blessed in the process.

“Charity brings its own reward,” says the proverb. There is a glow of satisfaction in giving for a good cause. It is also, in a Gospel sense, the best possible investment for our eternal future — that “treasure in heaven” of which Jesus spoke, when he invited people to “sell what you have and give to the poor.” And it has been well said that, from the perspective of our death-bed, we will be happier to think of what we have freely given away during our life-time than of what we have simply stored away for the rainy day.

Giving can be global as well as local. In our technological age, we have more detailed information than any previous generation about the hungry and deprived plight of people in Third World countries, and indeed of the major miseries endured in inner-city areas of high unemployment much closer to home. Sometimes we feel almost crushed into apathy by the sheer magnitude of the problems; at other times we may grow indignant at the political and economic structures that seem to perpetuate this state of affairs. Aware and intelligent generosity should prompt us to outspoken concern for justice, as well as some personal contribution to charities like famine relief, development funds and soon. At the same time, we ought not neglect the smaller, perhaps less urgent, needs at our own door-step. The personal touch is part of the giving, and giving our time can often be more precious than anything else. And Shakespeare’s line remains true about all works of kindness and mercy, in whatever circumstances: “It is twice blessed: it blesses him that gives and him that takes.”


One Response

  1. Thara Benedicta

    Key Message:
    Never feel whatever you are doing is less for God. God is satisfied with all that we give with a loving heart!!
    The takeaway from the first reading:
    Let us analyze a few takeaways from today’s story in the first reading.
    1. First God’s servant ate and was fully satisfied. Then the jar and jug never became empty.
    Elijah told the widow that God is asking her to give the meal that she had for herself and her son to live on and she gave it. Then came the prize. When we hear the voice of the Holy Spirit asking us to do something, if we keep finding out excuses for not doing it, then we are losing a big blessing. We should think and remember that God is our loving Father, won’t He take care of me?

    2. No prophet is accepted in his hometown.
    As our Lord Jesus said in Luke 4:24, “No prophet is accepted in his hometown”. Though Elijah was working for Israel, he was not fed by anyone in Israel. God had made Elijah visit a widow in Sidon to give him food. Similarly, we may not be understood by our own family members when we work for God. But God will make a way for our ministry to flourish, whatever may be the kind of ministry.

    3. When we do God’s will there are always immense blessings.
    God’s will is sometimes simple but many times challenging to do. The farther we walk with God, the more things we will be able to accomplish for God. Let us consider the example of God asking Noah to build the ark. It had never rained till then. Noah was asked to build an ark, which would protect all the living beings from water. For a situation that Noah had not witnessed in his life, he had to work on providing a solution. During the long years Noah had spent building the ark, he was criticised. He would have looked like a fool in the eyes of the world. But God recompensed Noah heavily, by having Noah as the ancestor of all the people in the world.
    In our daily lives, when we try to accomplish God’s will, we may face a variety of pains. People may ignore us or they may mock us as fools. But our Lord Jesus will crown us with glory for the cross we had to bear. If God is asking for something that you need, then He is planning to give many things more than what you need.

    The takeaway from the second reading:
    As we are in the month of November, specially allocated to remember and pray for the departed souls, today’s second reading gives us an assurance that Jesus is there in Heaven presenting His own blood for the forgiveness of our sins. By the Blood of our Lord Jesus, our sins will be washed away and we will be wearing the spotless white robes. We have a promise of Heaven in our Lord Jesus. We have to fulfil the plans which our God has for us on earth and look back at our life with satisfaction. When we undergo troubles in our life, we should remember that now we are running our race. Later, we will be able to say with Apostle Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day — and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
    We can be either happy saints or sad sinners!!

    The takeaway from Gospel reading:
    Jesus explains in Matthew 6:6 how to pray. “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
    In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus says what will happen if we say prayers just to be seen. “…for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive greater condemnation.”
    Prayers said just to be seen, earn condemnation, but unseen prayers earn rewards!!
    Jesus was not surprised by the huge amount of money contributed by the rich, but the two copper coins from the poor widow moved our Lord Jesus. These two copper coins would have earned her more treasures in Heaven than the huge sum of money earned for the rich.
    The poor widow also said indirectly, “God I trust only in You!!” She could have had a meal for her survival with the copper coins. She definitely would have had more needs than anyone else. She did not do her mental maths calculation, having no funds for her own self, she gave her everything for God. She did not make any announcement about it – that she is giving her last survival meal also. All that she focussed on is only God and trusted only in Him.
    Let us imagine for a little while our Abba Father’s response in Heaven (only a little imagination!!) Abba Father would have got overjoyed and called up Angels and Saints in Heaven and told them, “See my daughter has given all that she had for her living, just for me. I am more to her than herself. She loves me and trusts in me. How can I satisfy her desires and make her fully happy?”
    When the poor widow had contributed her everything for God, won’t God give her in abundance?

    Tips for implementing the Takeaways:
    1. When God asks us to give something, it is always good for us to give it. We may lose a good blessing and also we will not have satisfaction in it, even if we have what we want. We always think that when we ask something of God, He will give it, without any other contribution from our end. But sometimes it happens that God is waiting for us to do ‘some particular thing’ to bless us.
    For example, consider the day when Jesus entered Zaccheus’s house. Jesus did not say to Zaccheus, “Salvation has come to this house” once He reached Zaccheus’s house. Only after Zaccheus told that if he had cheated anybody out of anything, he would pay back four times the amount, Jesus blessed Zaccheus and his family with salvation. Zaccheus gave his earthly wealth, for earning eternal life. We will also clean our earthly ways for the eternal way.

    2. The poor widow trusted in Almighty Father and gave all that she had in her nothingness. When we face nothingness, then we should give something to God. Nothingness does not mean that our pockets are completely empty and we are struggling for our next meal. It can mean that we are undergoing persecution either in the family or in office or elsewhere or people are accusing us of some wrong we have not committed, etc. At this kind of pain point, once we go ahead and help someone else in sorrow just for the sake of the love of God, it will move our Almighty Father.
    Small acts of love, when done during pain, are more powerful than big courageous acts done during moments of happiness.

    3. Purgatory is defined as the place of purification of the departed souls by the church. Purification of departed souls and the prayer requirement for the departed souls are present in 2 Maccabees 12:45. “But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore, he made atonement for the dead so that they might be delivered from their sin.”
    Hence let us pray and make atonement for the departed souls of our near and dear ones.

    4. St. Faustina also records in her diary about “All Souls Day”.
    “In the evening, these souls came and asked me to pray for them and I did pray very much for them. In the evening when the procession was returning from the cemetery, I saw a great multitude of souls walking with us into the chapel and praying with us”. This month, when praying the Divine Mercy Novena, let us include in our response “.. for the whole world and for the souls in purgatory”.

    5. St. Padre Pio explains the power of the Holy Rosary to save souls.
    “Each Hail Mary is a relief for the souls of Purgatory, thousands of souls go up to Heaven with by the prayer of the Holy Rosary, another large number of them receives a change of place and the souls most in need who find themselves in total purification are strengthened and they receive a rest that mitigates their sufferings.”
    There are many saints who through their prayers and sacrifices have enabled the release of souls from purgatory.

    6. The Apostle Paul provides us words of comfort when we lose our close friends or relatives – “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.” The source of our comfort is that they are living with our Lord Jesus Christ.

    7. We can offer Gregorian Masses for the souls of our departed loved ones.

    We need to help them on their way to Heaven!!