YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE 32ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: FROM MITE TO MIGHT: ECHOES FROM THE TWO WIDOWS
BY: Fr. Johnbosco Obika
1 Kings 17:10-16;
Hebrews 9:24-28; Mark 12:38-44
Whenever the bible mentions names of people, it is for us to learn from their good example or to avoid their bad example . But in today's 1st and gospel readings, we have two major characters whose names are not mentioned but are only identified as widows. I believe the omission of their names is providential, so that we can fix our own names. That is to say, God is asking us to act like the widow of Zarephath and the poor widow in the gospel. I guess fixing our names there will make the stories more real for us. The stories of the generous widows whose mites became their might are very touching with powerful message for all of us. In a time of famine in Israel, God showed His might in the house of a vulnerable widow, the Zarephath. There are three things that made the Zarephath exceptional
1. She received Elijah even though he was a stranger. She received him even though she was a widow and Elijah was a man. She actually knew the social and cultural implications. After all, what is a man doing in a widows house?
2. She shared what she had even though she had little and Elijah was asking for much.
3. Above all, she trusted in divine Providence. The story of widow of Zarephath, on the one hand, gives us reasons why we should be generous. We should be generous for the following reasons:
1. Because God first gave us and keeps giving us. All we are and have are gifts from God. There is nothing we have that is truly ours. The coming of Jesus is the climactic point of God's gift to humanity. Jesus did not just give himself, he emptied himself and stripped himself of his divinity. He gave us the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit gave us His gifts and salvation. God's very life is a life of love, and love consists in giving. Therefore, we should not hesitate to give what we have to help others. We are God's ready hands, God uses us to solve other people's problems.
2. Because we too are always in need. Nobody can survive independent of others. Survival is communal. We cannot get all we need by ourselves, our powers are limited. This is human predicament. G.J. Warnock in his work, 'The object of Morality', raised this concern. According to him, 'the human predicament is inherently such that things are liable to go badly'. So is case because we have limited resources, limited information, limited intelligence, limited rationality and more seriously, limited sympathy. In fact, we are limited beings. We need other hands to lift us when we fall. Nevertheless, it is the measure we give that we shall receive (Luke 6:38). Grace and favour increase where generosity increases. Sometimes past I wrote about generosity and a Facebook friend of my commented asking, "Isnt it stupidity to give all"? And I replied, "It is possible for one to give all without giving anything. In that case it is stupidity to give all".
The story of the poor widow in the gospel, on the other hand, passes a strong message across, teaching us how to give and what God actually wants from us. What pleases God comes from the inside, from the heart. Jesus was condemning the scribes for their outward show of religiosity. He sets as a lesson a poor widow whose mite became her might in the gospel. God wants more than our gifts, he looks at the size of our heart not the size of our pocket. The poor widow had small coin but larger heart. Others gave out of their abundance but she gave her livelihood from heart, trusting in Divine Providence.
Change of attitude and purity of intention is the key when we want to give to God, to the poor, to our neighbours, friends and relatives. Let us be sincere in our charity towards the poor and helping in the temporal needs of the church. Above all, let us be connected to God whether we have much or little. When one is connected to God, he will give and give without running dry and so shall he receive, moving from mite to might because. Thus, 'The bowl of wheat shall not be empty and the jar of oil shall not run dry'. However, when one is disconnected from God, and get attached to money and pleasure, he shall gather and gather and will never be satisfied.
PEACE BE WITH YOU. HAPPY SUNDAY!