YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE 32ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: THOUGH VERY POOR, YET HIGHEST DONORS
BY: Fr. Charles Unaeze
READING: 1Kg 17:10-16; Ps 145; Heb. 9:24-28; Mk 12:38-44
Two poor widows made name and history according to today’s liturgy. One of the greatest tragedy to our social relationship is the thinking that the act giving or helping others is an exclusive reserve of a particular class – the rich and the wealthy class; the thinking that, it is only for them, I am not involved because I am poor. Anyway, the bible readings today present us with a different opinion – even the poor can also give. The protagonists of the readings are two poor widows, one from the OT and the other NT, who gave everything they had.
The first widow, the widow of Zarephath (1Kg 17: 10-16), hosted the exhausted and depressed prophet Elijah who has lost all he had and had to flee his country. She believed the words of the prophet and gave him all she had. By agreeing to accommodate Elijah the prophet, the widow was prepared to die together with her son after sharing the last portion of her food. Little did she know that this extraordinary gesture of kindness and generosity would change her life.
The gospel reading presents us with a similar scene – the famous Widow’s Mite (Mk 12: 38-44). Here a poor widow made the highest donation in the Temple with just two small coins even though there were also the well-offs who doled considerable sums of money. Jesus praised her action in contrast to the rich who gave greater sums because she gave from her heart and with love. “Love is more precious than gold.” The bible emphasized that it was not just that she gave two small coins, but “all she possessed”.
The central message of the readings is the overwhelming faith of these poor widows. In their poverty, they were enormously courageous. They took hard decisions by emptying their reserves and investing them in God believing that He will not disappoint them. The action for them was a special kind of prayer and investment. By giving what they had, they offered also all their needs and worries to God. It really paid off, God never disappointed them.
However, inasmuch as we are being called to emulate the faith, the trust and the sense of generosity of these widows, there is also a serious need to exercise some caution while expressing this practical aspect of faith. It is wise and prudent donation or generosity when it is directed to the truly needy person/people or given for a genuine religious and humanitarian course. It is wrong and unwise when it is directed to the people who are better off, people who do not really need the donations, in fact, the rich in guise of the poor. Care should also be taking against some of the so-called “men of God” who extort people in the name of God, who not only take advantage of the gullibility of the people of God but also abuse their sense of generosity.
The Church wishes to use the praise-worthy actions of the poor widows to stimulate in us faith, confidence and trust in God, and the spirit of love and “sharing” with others what we possess. Faith is trusting too much, believing too much and investing wisely and properly.
God bless you, and have a happy Sunday.
Fr. Charles Unaeze