32nd Week in Ordinary Time

Sunday, November 11, 2018

First reading: 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.

Second reading: 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.

Gospel: Mk. 12:38-44

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.”

In other words Fr. Vicente Uy, SVD (Holy Name University, Bohol)

We sometimes hear people say, rightly or wrongly, that the poor are more generous than the rich. But are they really? What is your take on this? Our answer will probably depend on where we come from. If we believe that generosity is determined by how much we give, then the rich who usually can give more are therefore more generous than the poor. Agree? This was what the Pharisees and the scribes thought. That is why Jesus’ statement in our Gospel reading today was, to say the least, a big surprise to them.

Our Gospel reading today has two parts: (1) Warning against the teachers of the Law, and (2) the widow’s offering. For this Sunday, let me dwell more on the latter, the widow’s offering. Here we read that many rich people came to the Temple and threw in large amounts of money into the temple box as offering while the poor widow just put in two very small copper coins worth only a few cents.

If we go by the quantity or amount of their offerings, then the rich who gave much more than the poor widow can be said, indeed, to be more generous. But if we go by the quality or sincerity of one’s offering, then the poor widow gave more, much more. For, as our Lord himself noted, this poor widow, out of her poverty, put in everything that she had to live on. I repeat, EVERYTHING that she had to live on!

Though the rich gave more to the temple treasury, whose money, by the way, made the upkeep of the Temple possible, let us remember that they gave out of their abundance and, therefore, did not hurt their pockets that much.

From this, we can conclude that generosity which can either be quantitative or qualitative, has two possible interpretations of one and the same act. But as to which is more pleasing to God, Jesus himself answered it for us. It was the “generosity” of the widow that pleased him more because what she did was a sacrificial and selfless act. What the widow did was something that showed vividly her complete faith and trust in God’s Divine Providence while not minding her own needs.

Today, we need more people who are as generous as the rich man but also more of the likes of the poor widow who are willing to risk all for God and His Kingdom. We need people who are, as someone put it, “loving, living, and giving sacrificially and selflessly” for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

Further reflections:

“Nobody is so poor that he has nothing to give and nobody so rich that he has nothing to receive.” — St. Pope John Paul II

Real generosity carries with it always the sweet smell of sacrifice. Generous behavior is a light that shines through the darkness.

Tags: Bible reflection, Witness to the Word