Reflection for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

Image result for the widow's mite

FIRST READING                 1 Kings 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                        Hebrews 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                     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.”

My sisters and brothers in Christ,

Jesus expects us to trust Him completely.  Many of us are not quite so sure that we can trust Him, even though we want to trust Him.  The widow in the first reading shows us how a person can trust completely, even to the point of giving up the little one has for another person.  The Gospel of Mark today repeats that message with the story of the poor widow who gave all she had, trusting in the Lord.  The challenge today:  Will I trust?  Will I give up what I have because I trust in the Lord?

The first reading is from the First Book of Kings and gives us stories about the Prophet Elijah.  Elijah is a wonderful person in the Old Testament.  Elijah trusts so completely that he always does what God asks of him, even when it puts his own life in danger.  Elijah can complain to God because Elijah has such a close relationship with God and thus shares everything with God.  This is part of the challenge for us today:  trust and become close!  When God does not give us what we think we need, we are free to tell God that we still need what we are asking for.  We must have confidence will always give us what we truly need.

The second reading today is from the Letter to the Hebrews.  The author continues to compare Jesus Christ to the High Priest of the Jewish faith.  The author always wants us to know that there is more in the world of the sacred than just the High Priest.  Jesus is a new expression of what it means to be a High Priest. You and I are invited to be priests also, sharing in the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ.  We need to embrace our human condition and bring all that is truly human to the Lord.  We are invited to share in Christ and with Christ.

The Gospel of Mark brings us back to the theme of giving all that we have to the Lord.  Perhaps many of us are more practical and give to the Lord what we may have in excess of what we need.  The Lord wants more!  The Lord wants all that we have and all that we are.  The Lord invites us and waits for us.  Many of us are fearful that if we give all, we shall have nothing left.  Think again of the widow in the first reading.  She had practically nothing and was preparing to share the little she had with her son—and then die.  The Prophet comes and asks her to give to him the small amount she had.  This is the kind of experience that we may have.  We seem to lack everything that we need in this life and especially we may lack the means to obtain what we believe we need.  Then God asks us to give up even the little we have.

Can we do that?  Are we able to trust so much in God that we will give up even what we believe is necessary?  God is asking us?  What will we reply?

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip

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2 Responses to Reflection for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

  1. Mary Salmond says:

    Great and probing questions in the last paragraph! Thanks again, Abbot! That should be a morning prayer for each day.
    Due to our human nature and occurrences around us, it is so hard to trust daily.

  2. The luminous aspect and the splendid side of Abbot Philip that come through in his words are in sharp contrast to the way many US Catholics see their bishops and other clerics these days. In what many believe is the greatest crisis in Church history – because it centers largely on morality and doctrine – many bishops are like shepherds who, instead of protecting the sheep, attack them. As Jesus expressed it in today’s Gospel, quoted above, “Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes….They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext, recite lengthy prayers. They will receive a very severe condemnation.” (Mark 12,38-44)

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