Sunday homily for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B (3)

Sunday homily for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

Theme: Givers never lack

By: Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya

Homily for Sunday November 7 2021

 

1 Kings 17:10-16
Psalm 146:7, 8-9, 9-10
Hebrews 9:24-28
Mark 12:38-44

In our liturgy today, The Church places two examples of the poor in spirit before us: the Widow of Zarephath and the poor widow who gave to the Temple treasury all she had to live on.
Our first reading and the Gospel reading link the generous giving of these widows with the great drama of God’s generosity soon to take place – as Jesus gives himself into the hands of his Father for the sake of the whole human family. Today’s second reading from the letter to the Hebrews explains how the ritual of old Israel was only a foreshadowing of the Saviour’s Paschal Mystery. The old sacrifices, offered time and again – in a ‘man made’ temple that was only a model of God’s eternal dwelling place, and making use of the blood of animals – have now given way to the world’s final act of worship. The Saviour enters ‘the actual presence of God on our behalf’, making a gift of himself ‘once and for all’. He shows us how true it is that a giving that really counts brings true blessings – in his total gift of himself he has become the source of all the blessings that we will ever need.

So my dear friends in Christ, how much are we willing to give to God?
Back in the time of Queen Elizabeth the First, in England, there was a retired admiral of the Royal Navy who in his retirement was now running a thriving business. The Queen asked him to return to military service during a time of this national crisis. The man hesitated, asking “… but what will become of my business?” The Queen replied: “You look after my business, and I will look after your business.” How much more when we look after God’s business? He will surely look after ours too.

The widow of Zarephath must have been very trusting or had a great faith in God because she went and did what Elijah demanded of her– giving up what was to be the little she had left. But the miracle occurred! The other story of the widow in the Gospel does not contain a miracle at all but shows a picture of someone whose faith in God is so strong that she was willing to sacrifice the little she had, because that was what God had demanded of her. She was not rationalising her survival afterwards- if she gave that away. She perhaps does not know how she would live. But she did what she felt was the right thing and left the rest to God. Jesus admires her great faith.

The Gospel today is, therefore, a strong challenge for all of us. Why do many of us find it difficult to share with the poor and to contribute to the Church? Perhaps many of us have to be reminded that everything comes from God, and that we are just managers of everything that we have. If we are bad managers, we know what happens- we get fired! (Meaning, no reward of eternal life) Let’s be clear about it. God is not interested in our money. He has all of the riches that we ourselves would ever need. No, God wants more than our money. God wants YOU! God wants ME! He wants our daily life. He wants to be what we depend on each day. He wants to be what we live on. Our giving to God is only giving Him back what is already His in the first place. But giving God our hearts? That is quite something else! The gift of our heart is what He is looking for. It is our gift to Him each time we are at Mass. And when we gift Him with our love, when we give Him our hearts and our lives, our interests and desires, what He will give back to us cannot be measured. Maybe perhaps we are not yet really convinced that God provides and that He can never be outdone in generosity. Maybe we are afraid that God will not do His part of the deal. Then it simply means we do not trust God enough. And definitely, we do not love Him enough.

After a military pilot had died in a freak aircraft crash, the investigation report said that the aircraft had engine trouble. It was caused by a tiny spare part wrongly installed in the engine. Beloved in Christ, little things don’t necessarily mean of less value than the bigger ones. But oftentimes we are misled by the quantity, and we miss the value of the quality.

This is what the Lord was trying to point out when he called the attention of his disciples to the poor widow in the Temple. She gave two small coins to the treasury. What is the value of two small coins, worth only a cent, compared with the large donations from many rich people? It was very easy to neglect her measly contribution, but not with Jesus. As Scriptures say, “Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1Sam 16:7). Looking at the hearts of people coming in to give donations, Jesus concluded: “This poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.” The wealthy were just giving their surplus, but the widow was giving her whole life.

The question for us today is: “Do we give God what’s left over after we’ve taken care of everything else?” Or do we give God what we’re living for? We have much, and we can give God much. We can give God our trust, our reliance upon Him, our dependence upon Him. Take our daily efforts, for instance. Are they to accomplish our purposes or God’s purposes? We can make our purposes God’s purposes and we can make God’s purposes our purposes. Caring for the ones you love, caring for your wife, your husband, and your children is giving your life to God. Providing for the happiness of others is giving your life to God. Working for peace, working for justice and fairness in our world, and many other efforts is, in fact, giving your life over into God’s care.

In the final analysis, the lessons from today’s readings include first, we should not be SELFISH. All the figures in our readings were not selfish. Instead, they sacrificed everything they owned for the sake of God and the good of others. Second, we should have FAITH in God’s divine providence. In life, moments of scarcity, as many of us are experiencing it today, are moments of test, as well as moments of faith- our faith in God.

At times, some of us think that if we give something to help someone in need, we would be left with nothing. However, it is important to note that the little we give to others is greater than the much we save or store for ourselves. This is why Tobit advices us that: “It is better to give alms than to treasure up gold. For almsgiving delivers from death, and it will purge away every sin. Those who perform acts of charity and righteousness will have fullness of life” (12, 8-9). There is a very simple saying that: “Givers never lack!”

*Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya*

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