Saturday, November 07, 2015



November 8, 2015 - 32nd SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Cycle B, Green   


1 Kgs 17:10  – 16  / Heb 9:24 – 28 / Mk 12:38 – 44


First Reading: 1 Kgs 17:10  – 16  

     So Elijah went to Zarephath. On reaching the gate of the town, he saw a widow gathering sticks. He called to her and said, "Bring me a little water in a vessel that I may drink."

     As she was going to bring it, he called after her and said, "Bring me also a piece of bread." But she answered, "As Yahweh your God lives, I have no bread left but only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am just now gathering some sticks so that I may go in and prepare something for myself and my son to eat – and die."

     Elijah then 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; then make some for yourself and your son. For this is the word of Yahweh, the God of Israel, 'The jar of meal shall not be emptied nor shall the jug of oil fail, until the day when Yahweh sends rain to the earth."

     So she went and did as Elijah told her; and she had food for herself, Elijah and her son from that day on. The jar of flour was not emptied nor did the jug of oil fail, in accordance with what Yahweh had said through Elijah.


Second Reading: Heb 9:24 – 28 

     Christ did not enter some sanctuary made by hands, a copy of the true one, but heaven itself. He is now in the presence of God on our behalf. He had not to offer himself many times, as the High Priest does: he who may return every year, because the blood is not his own. Otherwise he would have suffered many times from the creation of the world. But no; he manifested himself only now at the end of the ages, to take away sin by sacrifice, and, as humans die only once and afterwards are judged, in the same way Christ sacrificed himself once to take away the sins of the multitude. There will be no further question of sin when he comes again to save those waiting for him.


Gospel: Mk 12:38 – 44 

     As he was teaching, he also said to them, "Beware of those teachers of the Law who enjoy walking around in long robes and being greeted in the marketplace, and who like to occupy reserved seats in the synagogues and the first places at feasts. They even devour the widow's and the orphan's goods while making a show of long prayers.  How severe a sentence they will receive."

     Jesus sat down opposite the Temple treasury and watched the people dropping money into the treasury box; and many rich people put in large offerings. But a poor widow also came and dropped in two small coins.

     Then Jesus called his disciples and said to them, "Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all those who gave offerings.  For all of them gave from their plenty, but she gave from her poverty and put in everything she had, her very living." 



     Together with orphans and strangers, widows were considered among the least in Jewish society. Because Jewish culture assigned the role of breadwinner exclusively to men and never to women, the passing away of the male spouse left the widow the task of singlehandedly taking care of the family, without the means to do so. Ancient Jewish custom did not accord inheritance to widows, leaving them truly with a handicapped future.

     This sorry situation for widows serves as the backdrop for the readings today. In the first reading from the First Book of Kings, a poor widow from Zarephath, though suffering from a severe drought, generously shared the last meager food for her and her son with the prophet Elijah. The poor widow was rewarded with food and oil for her and her son until the drought ended.

     In the Gospel reading Jesus commends the generosity of the poor widow in giving two small coins, giving "from her poverty and putting in everything she had, her very living."

     In today's readings we see the generosity of the widow of Zarephath and of the widow at the temple treasury: they were willing to share and give the very little they had, their "very living": "I am just now gathering some sticks so that I may go in and prepare something for myself and my son to eat - - and die."

     It is easy to give from one's abundance. To give away millions is nothing for one who has billions; to give out one's last two coins with nothing left defies logic. The two widows in today's readings give from their poverty, from their "very living." In rewarding the widow who was willing to share all she had with Elijah, God was rewarding her great generosity. In commending the widow at the treasury, Jesus was teaching his disciples the meaning of true generosity.

     Generosity is the willingness to give and to share with others. The rich who contributed much to the treasury were very generous. By praising the poor widow for "putting in more than all those who gave offerings," our Lord was teaching us that generosity was not merely the willingness to give and share: generosity was the willingness to give with great love.

     This qualifier about love in giving totally changes the tenor of giving.  If generosity involves giving in love, then the element of self-sacrifice comes in. An act can be considered "loving" if it involves self-forgetting. Key to Christian giving is the element of self-renunciation for the sake of the beloved. This notion of self-sacrifice, of self-forgetting, of self-renunciation which is an essential component of Christian generosity is clearly embodied in today's readings. Because the two widows gave what were truly precious to them, we see the aspect of self-sacrifice which gives power and authenticity to their giving.

     In his latest encyclical Pope Francis writes, "I distrust charity that costs nothing and does not hurt." Indeed this sums up and confirms the lessons from today's readings: authentic giving has its cost; Christian generosity does hurt.  











Finally, we pray for one another, for those who have asked our prayers and for those who need our prayers the most. 


Have a good day!



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   |  The Daily Prayer, a service and an apostolate of the

   |  priests, laity and friends of Mary the Queen Parish

   |  distributed free and for personal use only.  




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