32nd Sunday Ordinary Time Homily
I believe there is a significant message in Today’s Readings and Gospel for many of us. It has to do with:
• What and how we give
• Our trust in God
• Identifying “The Will of God,” and
• Knowing how God blesses those who give from the heart.
Today’s readings allow us to become more deeply aware that God is the helper of the poor when they turn to him in faith and trust. In the readings, we encounter two widows who give generously out of their poverty. Both of them have a great trust in God and in turn, He cares for them. Specifically, we find in the first reading from the book of Kings, the widow initially hesitates when asked to give, but when reassured by the prophet Elijah, does comply, and places her complete trust and hope in God. She did what Elijah requested by using the last of her food to feed him while not knowing how she and her son would survive. How many of us have such faith? How many of us are so generous? How many of us truly believe that God will give us all that we need in life? The reading ends with God multiplying the flour and oil just as the prophet had foretold, and the widow and her son ate for a whole year.
Each week we come to Mass and listen to the scriptures, to the prophets, and we hear how God so loves us, that he wants us to follow him, to trust Him, and that he will not abandon us. Yet, do we trust him? Do we have such faith?
In today’s Gospel we meet another widow at the temple and see such a contrast in how and what she gives, and in that of the Pharisees. The rich give from their surplus, while the poor widow offers everything she possesses, “Her whole livelihood, and her whole life.” She is not only completely honest with God, but she also deeply trusts in God’s providence. Isn’t that what God wants of us also? To be willing to give all and expect that God will provide. Many of us think about money when we hear these scriptures, but this concept of giving has much deeper roots. It actually begins in the heart. Many of us are much more selfish with our Time, our Attention, and the Sharing of Ourselves, than we are with our money. I do believe that Jesus is also pointing out that the value of what we offer is not necessarily judged by its quantity, but in its sincerity and completeness. Jesus is challenging us to recognize that our most beautiful and complete gifts come from the poverty of our hearts in union with a deep love and trust in God.
So what is it that we find ourselves giving to others?
• Do we give our kindness?
• Our compassion?
• Our forgiveness?
• Do we give our patience?
• Our Trust?
• Our Time?
• Our Efforts?
Do we have faith that as long as we do the “Will of God” he will take care of us? And what exactly is “This Will of God?” Could it be that God almost daily places situations, events, and encounters in our lives, and then sits back and waits to see how we will respond? Do we use Christian values, the scriptures, and the teachings of our church to not only identify these opportunities, but to direct our personal response? Can we see God’s hand in these events? Or are we so wrapped up in our own lives that we are oblivious of others?
Today’s readings really have to do with faith, service, and charity of the heart. There is no better day than today, Veterans Day to see how so many have done just that. Had faith in God and Country, gave of themselves unselfishly, and trusted that they would be able to do the will of God. I can remember being in boot camp many years ago, and realizing that I had turned over my entire being to this cause of service. I had no rights, at least that was what I was told, “They owned me!” For the next few years I did what I was told, and trusted that my service was being given for the greater good, and that by putting my wants and desires aside, I would become a part of something much greater than I was, specifically, part of a force that ensured liberty and freedom. There are so many who served unselfishly, many of you right here, and many who willing gave a part of themselves that they will never get back. Yet if asked, many of them would say that through their service they have been blessed by God in many different ways, and would not change a thing. They did this for you, for me, and they did it for God.
We are all called to serve and give of our entire being; it is in this complete surrendering that God’s grace can fill us with such riches. Yet it calls for our Trust, Faith, and Understanding, like that seen in the Widows of today’s readings, and in those Veterans, to understand that through such self-less charity, we are in fact, purged of self-centeredness, and united to that specific love... that only comes... from God.