32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, year B

Letting go and letting God

Readings: 1 Kings 17,10-16; Ps 146,1-10; Heb 9, 24-28; Mk 12, 38-44

The word of God for us on the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time B challenges us with the example of two widows who, out of their trust in the providence of God, were ready to give everything. It is not all about our generosity in giving material things but readiness to give ourselves as total surrender to God who is the source of what we have and what we are.

God provides for the vulnerable

The encounter between the prophet Elija and the widow of Zarephath was an encounter between the providential mercy of God and human misery manifested in the scarcity of food. The widow had foreseen her end when the man of God approached her with a request for something to eat. Elija calmed down her fears: „Fear not!...The jar of meal shall not be spent until the Lord sends rain upon the earth.“ He reminded her that God was still in charge even in the time of scarcity. Our trust in the providence of God calms down our fears. We can be at peace because the loving Father has enough in store for His children. In His care, God has a preference for the most vulnerable. The responsorial psalm articulates God’s care and concern: „The Lord upholds the orphan and the widow“. The life of these (orphan and widow) was very hard since they lacked the protection of husband and father. In the time of Jesus and in our time they were and are victims of injustice and exploitation. Their houses and property are „devoured“ (Mk 12,40). The widow of Zarephath believed that God was her sole defender.

Sanctuary for the needy

The Letter to the Hebrews presents to us the sanctuary as the place where God protects sinners from destruction due to sin. Christ, the Hign Priest presents to us the presence of God. In fact, He entered heaven so as to appear before God on our behalf. In order to do away with what separated us from God, that is, sin, he sacrificed himself. Christ’s sacrifice has ist roots in the sacrifice of God the Father who gave up His Son for the salvation of many. Our sacred places are still places of refuge and comfort, because in them we hear holy words proclaimed and a holy meal prepared for the guests of the Lord. Just as the widow of Zarephath (first reading) provided a sanctuary for the prophet Elija, so are we invited in our turn to provide sanctuary to those who are needy and seek our help. Let us just trust that there is enough for all if we are ready to share. Hoarding things may only increase our fears.

Complete trust in God

Despite being poor, the widow mentioned in the Gospel put two small coins into the treasury. She offered all she had. In this she showed complete trust in God. She could let go of everythig because she had practised letting God be in charge. She was not preoccupied about her future survival. In fact, she offered her whole existence because she believed that she was beause God provided for her. Her offering was not a substantial contribution for the administration of the temple. Jesus has made it clear that her importance lies in her readiness not to give „something“ but „herself“. People who are close to God imitate God. God gives Himself. Jesus teaches us the right dispositions with which we are to practice while giving alms. Mother Theresa of Calcutta encourages those she met „to give until it pains“. It is not so much about how much we give, but about the spirit in which we give. Our readiness to give everything points to our freedom from things and freedom for God. We are not possessed by our possessions. In the practice of selfless giving we are purged of all traces of pride, ambition, greed and vain glory. May our trust in God’s providence move us to be more sensitive to the poor and defenceless of society. We are also invited to be voices of the vulnerable especially the orphans and widows. Let there be justice for those who are oppressed!

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