Bulletin: November 11, 2018
Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
The readings this Sunday seem to focus on generosity. The prophet Elijah asks an
impoverished widow, who has almost nothing, to be generous. And she is. The letter to the Hebrews states that Jesus’ offering of himself is an act of giving so substantial that it does not have to be repeated. In the Gospel a widow gives of her substance, in contrast to the rich who give a lot from their abundance but who have a lot more to give. The first reading hints that these scriptures are not only about giving. They are also about fear. Elijah tells the widow, “Do not be afraid” to give your all. The depth of generosity that God asks of us is only possible if we let go of our fear.
In First Kings, Elijah meets a widow and immediately makes a request that she promptly fulfills; then he makes another that she resists. His response is not to chastise her lack of charity but instead he says, as Jesus will say repeatedly say in the Gospels, “Do not be afraid.” He recognizes that it is not lack of charity that prevents her from giving him a little food, it is fear, fear that she will not have enough for her son and herself given their dire straits. Elijah looks beyond the obvious. He asks something of her and then gives back to her, from God’s abundance, something even greater. The same is true in Hebrews. Christ offers himself, not as the priest does with a life not his own, but as the genuine Son of God. Again in the Gospel, the substantive generosity of the impoverished widow is contrasted with the apparent generosity of the wealthy. The wealthy are found lacking.
BE NOT AFRAID
It is clear that God prefers the widow’s generosity because it displays a lack of fear about what will happen if she leaves her life entirely in God’s hands. The widow, who lacks material goods, still fears for her welfare and that of her family but both widows, in Mark and in Kings, overcome that fear to place their reliance on God. The wealthy, as we have seen before in the Gospels, have a lot more to give away before they would need to put their reliance entirely on God. Many cannot find the strength and courage to do so. They give big gifts to the temple thinking this will bring them favor, as it does in the world. But God asks more of us than the world does. God asks that we live our lives as if they depended entirely on God and not our own accomplishments. Because they do.
Today’s Readings: 1 Kgs 17:10–16; Ps 146:7, 8–9, 9–10; Heb 9:24–28; Mk 12:38–44 [41–44]