Homily — 32nd Sunday OT B

Homily — 32nd Sunday OT B November 12, 2006

The Widow's Mite

She, from her poverty, has contributed all she had.

In the first reading, the Old Testament prophet Elijah asks the pagan widow of Zarephath to make him some bread.

So the widow uses up all the “handful of flour” and the little bit of oil she has, makes a small loaf of bread with it, and brings it to the prophet to eat.

And returning home, she finds her flour jar miraculously filled to the brim with flour, her oil jug the same, and throughout that time of famine her and her son stay strong and healthy.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, the old testament prophet Elijah here symbolizes Jesus, and the widow of Zarephath here symbolizes us.

Just as Elijah asks the widow to prepare bread for him out of what she has, so Jesus asks us to prepare bread for him out of what we have.

And just as the widow brings Elijah the bread she prepared, so you and I in a few moments will bring to Jesus the bread we have prepared.

The part of the Mass after the General Intercessions and up to the Eucharistic Prayer is called the Offertory.

Baskets are passed, and monetary donations are collected to pay for everything that goes into offering the bread: the purchase of the bread from Cavaunaugh Company in Greenville, the upkeep of this Church the bread is offered in, and the support of the priests who offer the bread.

Once the donations have been collected, the Bread (and Wine) and monetary offerings are brought up to the Altar. And then the Bread is offered by the priest to God through Jesus.

And so, the Bread we offer Jesus each Sunday (and each day) here at St. Joseph Church, in particular the very host which will be consecrated and then given back to you in Holy Communion, truly has been prepared and presented by noone else but you and me.

But as the Gospels show us, Jesus our Lord wants us to offer Him much more than physical bread at the Offertory. As the basket is passed, as the bread is brought up, Jesus wants us to make a Spiritual offering as well, an offering to Him that is more than we can spare.

And its not so much alms Jesus is looking for from us, although that might be part of it. Rather, Whatever we think we could never live without needs to be handed over in the Offertory and placed on the paten the priest offers to God.

Because the more we imitate these two widows in today’s readings, the more our jars and jugs will never go empty throughout our lives.

On the other hand, the more we imitate the scribes, who lived for themselves and gave God only of their surplus wealth, the more we risk spiritually shriveling up when famine hits.

And so our ideal at every Offertory is the total offering of the widow in the Gospel. Jesus praised the widow for her tremendous detachment and for her heroic trust in God’s Providence.

But like any other person, the widow didn’t become the saint she was overnight. She learned over time to be more generous, more self giving. And really, it was a lifetime process of learning how to let go of things and offer them to God.

And so as a young woman, she had to learn to let go of her parents when she was wed to her husband. As a new mother, she had to learn to let go of her youthfulness. As the years went on, she soon needed to learn how to cut the apron strings and let her grown up children leave the nest. And when her husband passed away, she learned how to offer him back to God and go on serving God in this life.

And despite having given to God all these things she thought she could’ve never lived without, her flour and oil, her faith hope and love, never ran dry but only increased the more she gave all she had to the Lord.

And so we too must learn throughout life that detachment and that trust in God’s Providence that the widow learned.

And finally, not only do we have the inspiring example of these two widows in today’s readings, there’s another widow that we can look to, to help us even more. This other widow, even though she was given so many riches and blessings in this life, every day offered them all back to God and used them only as He wished her to. And when, one by one, all of these blessings and riches were taken from her, she was able to let them all go and continue on in great faith, hope, and love.

So let us today and every day turn to that Holy Widow, our Blessed Mother Mary, who continued to offer to God all she had even after losing her husband Joseph and her Divine Son Jesus.

May Mary help us to contribute to the Church all we have, our whole livelihood, for no other reason than to give God the glory.

Comments are closed.