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Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

November 10, 2018

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

This past week we celebrated the Solemnity of All Saints, and 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 Beatitudes.  As the Commandments guide one in what to avoid as sins, the Beatitudes stress what one is to do to live a blessed life. 

The first of the Beatitudes proclaimed by Christ is: Blessed are the poor in spirit!  This Beatitude exhorts us: Be humble – realize how God has gifted you.  Today from Saint Mark’s Gospel Jesus gives us a fuller understanding of the first of the Beatitudes which establishes the foundation for all the Beatitudes!

In the Gospel, we are first told how not to live, and whom we should not imitate.  We are not to parade around, dressed-up with pride expecting accolades and demanding places of honor, even if we are doing charitable deeds!  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 simple, ordinary and hidden so that all the good we do is done deliberately to be un-noticed and un-acknowledged.  The ordinary life of the Christian is self-sacrificing and un-assuming so that it is understood by all as the regular, ordinary way a Christian lives!

So that the instruction of Jesus does not remain merely on the level of theory, Saint Mark retrieves a powerful story from the life of Jesus.  There was once a widow.  While the community of believers contains more than widows, nonetheless the message is clear: all disciples are to be like the widow and 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 exactly what she needed, exactly when she needed it. 

We are prepared for this moving story of the New Testament widow by the powerful story of the Old Testament widow of Zarephath from the first reading.  The Church deliberately provides both stories because both women are shining examples among All the Saints who live according to the Beatitudes of Jesus – True Disciples of Jesus.  Like the widows, we too must embrace the Word of God with confidence and action; we are to make the Beatitudes explicit 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 un-noticed and un-acknowledged acts of loving service and faith.

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!  

Prosit,

Monsignor Joseph Marino

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