Gospel Reflection: Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Malvern Minute

 

THIRTY-SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

NOVEMBER 8, 2015

Alleluia, Alleluia.

Blessed are the poor in spirit,

Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Alleluia, Alleluia.

The Gospel of Saint Mark 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.”

The Gospel of the Lord

 

REFLECTION

Last Sunday, the Solemnity of All Saints we were instructed by Saint Matthew’s Gospel in the ways of holiness, that is the ways of blessedness and sanctity. Matthew’s Gospel pictured Jesus ascending the mountain, like Moses in the Book of Exodus in order to proclaim to all who would hear that the Ten Commandments are fulfilled in the Eight Beatitudes.  As the Commandments guide one in what to avoid as sins, the Beatitudes stress what one is to do in order to live a blessed life.

The first of the Beatitudes proclaimed by Christ was: Blessed are the poor in spirit!  In last week’s reflection, I interpreted this exhortation simply as: Be humble – realize all your gifts come from God.  Now, Saint Mark’s Gospel, from the lips of Jesus gives us a fuller understanding of the first of the Beatitudes which is also the foundational Beatitude of all the others!

In the Gospel, we are first told what not to do and whom we should not imitate.  We are not to parade around, all dressed-up with pride expecting or demanding accolades and places of honor, even if we are doing great things!  As instructed in another place in the Gospel, our left hand is not to know what our right hand is doing.  In other words, our lives are to be so simple, ordinary and consistent that all the good we do daily is done deliberately to be unnoticed and unacknowledged.  The ordinary life of the Christian is self-sacrificing and unassuming so that it is understood and seen by all as the regular, ordinary way a Christian lives!

However, so that the instruction of Jesus does not remain on the level of theory, Saint Mark retrieves a powerful story from the life of Jesus, and most likely from his own Church community.  We are told that once there was a widow, but now there are countless numbers of believers.  And, these disciples like the widow live a life of dependence on God, trusting daily that as they sacrifice, God will provide!  The risk that the poor widow took, while unnoticed by all others, did not go unnoticed by God.

The poor widow becomes for Saint Mark another shining example of a True Disciple of Jesus.  She took her two small coins worth a few cents ….all she had, her whole livelihood and placed them at the service of the Temple.  In obedience to the Beatitude, she humbly realized that all her gifts had come from God. Therefore, placing her trust in God, she believed that God in His providence would give to her what she would need when she would need it.

In this Sunday’s Liturgy of the Word, the Widow of Zarephath from the Book of Kings is complemented by this poor widow of Saint Mark’s Gospel.  Both are shining examples among All the Saints who lived according to the Beatitudes of Jesus – True Disciples of Jesus.  We in turn are to imitate them; we in our turn are to make the Beatitudes of Jesus tangible in our own lives.  As the Body of Christ, we make the life of Jesus and His way of life (Beatitudes) alive and visible by our unnoticed and unacknowledged acts of service and faith.

Allow me to end this reflection as I did the reflection of last week: the ways of holiness are difficult; indeed, they are impossible if one attempts them on his/her own.  However, with God all things are possible.   By surrendering into his care, God will transform us into His saints – His holy people!

WE BELIEVE, AND THEREFORE SPEAK (2 Corinthians 4:13)

Consider joining the Men and Women of Malvern by deepening your personal relationship with Jesus and your commitment as a disciple through a weekend retreat.  See our website for details: MalvernRetreat.com

 

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