Homily for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
- “Give it your all!”
- “The more we share, the more we have.”
- “The more you give, the more you live.”
- “No one has ever become poor by giving.” (Ann Frank).
- “For in giving, we receive…” (St. Francis of Assisi).
I’ve just shared with you some common statements that we have heard at one time or another about generosity… giving of the heart. Today our scriptures stories tell us of two widows, both in vulnerable situations but still giving to others from their hearts. Neither the widow who offered hospitality to Elijah in the First Reading nor the widow who gave all she had to the temple treasury, in the Gospel could be described as practical. A practical person would say that “charity begins at home.” But we’re talking about something greater than practicality here… we’re talking about poverty revealing the face of God.
The first widow could have turned Elijah away in order to take care of herself and son, instead of using all her meal or flour and oil to make a cake for a stranger. Likewise, if the woman in the Gospel had been practical, she could have given only one coin to the temple treasury. But, like her counterpart in the first reading, she gave it her all. Why did these women do this?
In the ancient world, hospitality to another was extremely important. The widow who gave her last morsel of food to a stranger. And in giving all that she had to live on to the temple, the poor widow in the Gospel shows us that both women revered God above all else, including their own lives. In fact, both women revealed the face of God to those in need, including a religious institution.
During my few days off, while trying to make some sense of my office at home, I found a memo that I had placed in the bulletin, after my brother Joe died… thanking you for your prayers, mass cards, love and support… In that note, not only was I thanking you for your generosity… for your goodness to me and my family, but for showing us the face of God. And that is what Jesus was trying to teach the others by using the example of the poor widow who gave all that she had.
I always amazed how you continue to reach out from within your hearts with so much. When there is a need in our parish or greater community, we are there, with our ‘flour, oil and coins:’ think of the hampers of food collected, Lonewater Farms, School supplies… a need is addressed and meet it head on. Or how many of you take communion and bulletins to shut-ins or those fearful of covid, or serving on the various committees, all ways that you reveal the face of God to others. The Revitalization, working hard on our behalf, along with other committees looking at ways that we can be like those widow’s in today’s Scriptures… brainstorming and thinking ahead for what is best for our faith communities, embracing challenges to move us forward at the same time, ministering to others.
Even in the midst of a pandemic, we continue to give from our hearts, hearts that sometimes are tired, hurting or brokenfor whatever reason. And why do we do this, because we have been there. We, too, have experienced poverty of the heart, we have been hurt and broken just as Jesus was on the cross. We know what it is like to suffer to the point that we don’t have anything left to give. And yet like those two women from today’s readings, we know that something else that is greater than us is at work here. I have been fortunate enough to work in both the wealthiest and the poorest of parishes communities… and regardless to what we had or didn’t have in our bank accounts, bills were always paid, needs in the community were met…we were able toreveal the face of Godto others.
Thetwo widows in our scripture stories show us that poverty and suffering, can give birth to hope and strengthen faith. Again, from my own experiences, many times in life that is all we are left with. This coming Thursday, is Remembrance Day where we remember the many men and women who experienced the ultimate poverty by giving the greatest gift: they sacrificed their lives to ensure our liberty. As well, the month of November is where we remember those gone before us in death, grateful for their lives and the many ways that they too, revealed the face of God for us.
Those two widows although poor…they were rich…one feeding a stranger with food and another feeding a temple … not only were both rich with great faith, trusting in God but also revealing God to other and to us. As we continue our Eucharist, let us be mindful that in our own poverty, whatever that may look like, and know that we are still called to reveal the face of God to others, especially those in most need. Amen.