Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 Kings 17:10-16, Psalm 146:7, 8-9, 9-17, Hebrews 9:24-28, Mark 12:38-44 or 12:41-44
Today in Saint Mark’s Gospel, God has told Elijah to go to Zarephath, where he will find a widow. It is a time of intense drought in Israel, and when Elijah arrives, the widow is preparing a final meal for her and her son, knowing that soon they will die due to their extreme poverty. A dramatic turn occurs when Elijah asks the widow to give him a cake and some water. Since he is a holy man, she fulfills his request and thereby receives a year’s supply of flour, oil, and water, as well as the gift of extended life.
Again, God proves faithful to promises made and trusted. We hear Jesus’ observations on his favorite topic— outward appearance versus inward truth in today’s Gospel account. We also hear about those who sit in the front rows to be seen or parade around with their prayer shawls fluttering so that all will notice them and be impressed. Jesus focuses on the why than the what of human behavior.
We are asked to “make much of much.“ Today, those who have done great physical feats or financial deeds get on the morning talk shows for a while and then fade into history.
The widows and orphans of the Scripture were considered the poorest of the poor. They represent all that is needy and loved of our human condition. Jesus makes much of the little and little of the much our world celebrates. The widow reveals the truth with which she lives. She is a two-coin soul in the eyes of all, including our Lord. He calls His disciples to Him and instructs them about what exactly they see. We assume that they, being poorer themselves by following Jesus, had been marveling at the amounts of money the affluent are putting into the treasury. Jesus calls our attention to the two-coin woman and what she represents. Her small contribution amounts to much, and we are invited to reflect on how God’s love embraces all, even that which goes unnoticed and uncelebrated. In this, Jesus is not advising us to increase or decrease our contributions at Mass or our favorite charity.
His message is not about money, but rather something within us, as humans, which desperately desires an experience of greatness or achievement. The widow, the coins, the rich and famous, they are all the same in the loving eyes of Jesus. Beneath and within, we are all the same. We are so loved, and those who experience that love do not need outward achievements to celebrate their lives except to live and give to others in need. Just ask Jesus’ disciples.
Question of the Day: How do you view the less fortunate and how will you aid them?