THIRTY – SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR B
Readings: 1Kings 17:10-16, Heb. 9:24-28, Mark 12:38-44
“A government social worker was visiting New England farms. He had the authority to give federal dollars to poor farmers. He found an elderly widow farming a few acres. Her house was clean but tiny. There did not appear to be much food in the house. The windows had no screens to keep out the summer flies. The exterior needed a paint job. He wondered how she could survive. He asked, ‘What would you do if the government gave you five hundred dollars?’ Her answer was, ‘I would give it to the poor.’
Our readings today present us with three widows. The first widow from Zarephath, a coastal city on the Mediterranean, Northwest of the Kingdom of Israel. Yahweh demonstrates the power of his word through the Prophet Elijah who declared a famine as a result of the sins of Ahab (his marriage to Jezebel and worship of Baal) and the protection of Elijah from hunger and death by the miracle of the multiplication of oil and flour. The miracle of protection and survival for Elijah came about at the instance of a poor widow. The widow in the hit of the drought and famine was met by Elijah gathering a couple of sticks, that she may prepare her last meal, eat it and die. Behold in this tempting situation, Elijah placed a request: “Fear not; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make for yourself and your son. For thus says the LORD the God of Israel…. Beautifully, the poor widow complied and she was richly blest with abundance oil and flour.
The second reading talks of Christ entering the sanctuary to offer a single sacrifice with his own blood for the forgiveness of the sins of many. Christ being the High and Eternal Priest of the Church is also the bridegroom of the Church who is her bride. However, Christ death, resurrection and Ascension into Heaven have widowed the Church. Like the widow in the first reading, the Church remains faithful to Christ and she is ever ready to express the power of Christ to save souls through teaching, preaching and healing (cf. Matt. 4:23).
The Gospel gives us the third widow and her wonderful example of what it takes to be a genuine giver. She demonstrates the true spirit of generosity. In our times, the original meaning of the “widow’s mite” is misconstrued. People say that the “Widow’s mite” means giving the least out of one’s abundance. Rather it means giving your from your SCARCITY, POVERTY, NOTHINGNESS AND YOUR WEAKNESSES. It means giving all to God. It means not HOARDING even in the midst of scarcity. The widow of Zarephath and that of the Gospel used their last resources of oil and flour to bake bread for Elijah and copper coin to put in the Temple treasury. The widow of the Gospel gave her last copper penny. She had no silver or gold to give but the last two copper and the least for that matter.
Why are we in the midst of plenty resources – natural and human, yet we are very poor? It is because we hoard a lot. Let us reflect on certain realities we have been hoarding:
TIME: Time according to Benjamin Franklin is money and time “Lost is never found again.” Our age recklessly hoards time in the form of wasting it on frivolous events and things like social networking – Facebook and what Sapp, others are Football, gambling, watching of television, gossips and evil conversations, clubbing and partying without working and resourcefulness.
MONEY: By the special grace of God, a lot of us are monetarily rich but it does not show on the faces of our people because a lot is hoarded and at the same time wasted on trivial and minimal issues. We are highly corrupt and some people have used their positions to loot the collective resources of our land. This has led to imposed poverty on many people. Many are poor today not because they are not hard working but because we are hoarding money from them by embezzlement, stealing and misappropriation of public funds.
LOVE: We have only one vocation. That is to love God and humankind. Jesus has beautifully exemplified that vocation by dying on the Cross for us even when we were still sinners (Rom. 5:8). He says, “A new commandment I give you: love one another as I have loved you…” (John 13:34). Husbands and wives withhold love from each other as a form of punishment and in most cases revenge. They refuse to pay their marriage debt and this has resulted in incontinence and its effects such as wide spread extra-marital relationship, concubinages, adultery, sexual harassment, and abortions. Listen to St. Paul in 1Cor. 7:3-4 “The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.
Many couples are emotionally separated. There is breakdown in communication. This has truncated the companionship dimension of marriage.
On the other hand, there is a huge wastage of love. Love is erroneously equated with sex. According to Richard Templar, “Relationships are not about sex.” What about moments of frustration, disappointment and distress? Are they moments to be filled up with sex? If that is done, the moments would be suppressed momentarily. The mentality that equates lust and love, sex and love has led to wide spread fornication and sexual promiscuity. This in a sense is a strong abuse of our human sexuality.
The saying is true: “Ideas rule the world.” However, the world has remained what it is because many of us hoard ideas. We store and stash ideas in documents and the rot away. A study has “discovered that employees have nothing to gain from hiding their insights from co-workers, and just end up hurting themselves by doing so. The study’s authors said employees should reconsider and be careful about hiding knowledge from their peers, because what goes around comes around.”
“More specifically, employees who intentionally hide more knowledge seem bound to receive such selfish behaviour in return from their co-workers, which will ultimately hurt them and decrease their creativity,”
We must therefore, learn to give our time, love, money and ideas genuinely according to the examples of the three widows from our readings today. Many have failed in the act of giving because they want to be socially secure by taking care of their future. Jesus says, think of today, for tomorrow will take care of its self (Matt. 6:34) What kind of giver are you?
“Someone has enumerated four different types of giving. The first is called grudge giving. I hate to part with this twenty dollars but I will. The second is shame giving. I must match whatever the Jones family is giving. The third is calculated giving. We part with our money with what, someone deliciously called, a “lively sense of favors to come.” (Gamgling nicely fit this category). The final category is thanksgiving. I part with my funds precisely because God has been so wonderfully generous to me. The widow of today’s Gospel fits comfortably into this area.”