Homily 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B.
Generosity and Trust in God.
Dear friends, today’s 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B readings lead us to consider the importance of the virtue of generosity founded on complete trust in God.
Both the 1st reading and the Gospel remind us of the generosity of two widows; whereas the 2nd reading shows Our Lord Jesus Christ’s example par excellence of generosity
- In the 1st reading (cf. 1 Kgs 17:10–16), we see the generosity of the widow of Zarephath, whom God asked to give food to Elijah the prophet even though she had very little left; He then rewarded her generosity by constantly renewing her supply of meal and oil. The widow gave all she had to feed the prophet, receiving in return much more that what she had given.
Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid. Go and do as you propose. But first make me a little cake and bring it to me. Then you can prepare something for yourself and your son. For the Lord, the God of Israel, says, ‘The jar of flour shall not go empty, nor shall the jug of oil run dry, until the day when the Lord sends rain upon the earth.’” She left and did as Elijah had said. She was able to eat for a year, and he and her son as well; the jar of flour did not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, as the Lord had foretold through Elijah.
- Today’s Sunday Gospel (cf. Mk 12:38–44) recounts the story of the widow’s mite, on how Jesus “sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, ‘Amen, I say to you, 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.’”
- Our Lord makes use of this event to teach us how our GENEROSITY MAKES GOD HAPPY. That poor widow gave much more than what the rich people contributed because she gave all that she had!
- I remember an anecdote regarding a donation St. Josemaria received after the civil war from a very rich friend who wanted to help the expansion of Opus Dei in the entire world. St. Josemaria told his spiritual children in a get-together that his friend gave him 2 million pesetas (in 1940’s it was a fortune!). Someone commented: “Father, how generous that man was!” to which St. Josemaria replied: “Yes, he was, but still he wasn’t, because he is very rich, and he could have given a lot more…You all [referring to his spiritual children present during the get-together], instead, are generous, because you have given to God all that you are and you have.”
- Let us not forget that IN GOD’S SIGHT THE VALUE OF AN ACTION LIES MORE IN ONE’S UPRIGHT INTENTION AND GENEROSITY OF SPIRIT THAN IN THE QUANTITY ONE GIVES. We could just imagine how Jesus’ eyes were lit up and his heart touched and gladdened upon seeing the widow’s generosity, reminding us that it is not the quantity that counts but the intention, cheerfulness and willingness with which one gives his alms, his time, his resources, his talents…or himself. I remember having read the following words attributed to St. Augustine: The bread you gave sadly, both bread and merit you’ve lost entirely.
- In the 2nd reading (cf. Heb 9:24–28), St. Paul reminds us of how Jesus’ total self-giving and holocaust on the Cross has “once and for all” took “away the sins of many…to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.”
- In this reading, we realize once more God’s generosity upon giving us His Only-Begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, to save us “once and for all”, humble and “obedient unto death…death on the Cross” which He willingly embraced and accepted. Did he find it difficult? Absolutely yes (He is Perfect God and Perfect Man, and his humanity knows what suffering is all about)! Remember the anguish He experienced in the Garden of Gethsemane? Nevertheless, He rectified…”not my will, but Thy Will be done”.
- He did not reserve anything for Himself but gave it all, until the last drop of his blood. And, after all He had done, He did not put limits to his generosity, inventing a way to be with us and giving Himself to us in the Holy Eucharist!
- Our Lord’s Incarnation, Passion and Death, His Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist, in our soul in grace, in His Church….do we have to ask You, Lord, for more proof of your generous love for us? No. For us, You have already exceeded Yourself (if ever that’s possible); but, for You, You could even give more of Yourself if necessary for our sake.
After considering the above-mentioned ideas, it is the right time to ask ourselves: ARE WE GENEROUS? Are we generous to God and to the people around us, especially those who are in most need?
- Generosity is NOT ONLY ABOUT ALMSGIVING (it is one way of living it), but also involves giving one’s TALENTS, COMPANY, RESOURCES, OR TIME to help, to console the broken hearted and those who are suffering, to serve those who are in need…to carry out works of mercy.
- Furthermore, knowing that God calls us to holiness and needs instruments to show his Providence, to seek, help and save souls, BEING GENEROUS IS MORE ABOUT GIVING ONE’S SELF to God and to others, convinced that HOLINESS CANNOT BE ATTAINED WITHOUT GOD’S GRACE AND OUR CORRESPONDENCE TO GIVE OUR SELF TO GOD, to say “yes” to Him for love —and “no” to our self— in the numerous little things throughout the day: this, however, is not an easy task, for love is inseparable from sacrifice, or better yet, THE PROOF OF LOVE IS PRECISELY SACRIFICE, as what Our Lord has shown us throughout His Life. Only then when we have given ourselves completely to what God asks from us shall we be imbued with a profound happiness.
“The Lord’s calling — vocation — always presents itself like this: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Yes, a vocation demands self-denial, sacrifice. But how pleasant that sacrifice turns out to be — “gaudium cum pace,” joy and peace — if that self-giving is complete (St. Josemaria, Furrow, n. 8).”
- Let us remind ourselves anew that GOD CAN NEVER BE OUTDONE IN GENEROSITY. Do you remember Jesus’ promise of the “hundredfold” to those who have left father, mother, sisters, lands for his sake? Though much we give God in this life, he will give us much more in life eternal.
Dear friends, Jesus gave up His Life for us and for ous salvation. And what about us? What are we willing to give Him in return? It is worthwhile to be generous to God, to live for Him and for others, and not for ourselves, for if we die unto ourselves for Christ, then we shall live in Christ (cf. Rom 6:8). Let us ask the help of Our Lady so that we may imitate her in generous response,— “Fiat! (Be it done!)—, every time Our Lord asks something from us.
A Blessed Sunday and week ahead!
Fr. Rolly Arjonillo.
PHOTO CREDIT: Inma R.G., Besapiés del Señor de Pasión in http://cofrades.sevilla.abc.es/photo/besapi-se-or-de-pasi-n-839
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