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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Sunday 32nd (A) in Ordinary Time

1st Reading (1Kgs 17:10-16): In those days, Elijah the prophet went to Zarephath. As he arrived at the entrance of the city, a widow was gathering sticks there; he called out to her, «Please bring me a small cupful of water to drink». She left to get it, and he called out after her, «Please bring along a bit of bread». She answered, «As the Lord, your God, lives, I have nothing baked; there is only a handful of flour in my jar and a little oil in my jug. Just now I was collecting a couple of sticks, to go in and prepare something for myself and my son; when we have eaten it, we shall die».

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 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.
Responsorial Psalm: 145
R/. Praise the Lord, my soul!
The Lord keeps faith forever, secures justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets captives free.

The Lord gives sight to the blind. The Lord raises up those who were bowed down; the Lord loves the just. The Lord protects strangers.

The fatherless and the widow he sustains, but the way of the wicked he thwarts. The Lord shall reign forever; your God, o Zion, through all generations.
2nd Reading (Heb 9:24-28): Christ did not enter into a sanctuary made by hands, a copy of the true one, but heaven itself, that he might now appear before God on our behalf. Not that he might offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters each year into the sanctuary with blood that is not his own; if that were so, he would have had to suffer repeatedly from the foundation of the world. But now once for all he has appeared at the end of the ages to take away sin by his sacrifice. Just as it is appointed that human beings die once, and after this the judgment, so also Christ, offered once to take away the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to take away sin but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.
Versicle before the Gospel (Mt 5:3): Alleluia. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Mk 12, 38-44): In his teaching to the crowds Jesus said, «Beware of those teachers of the Law who enjoy walking around in long robes and being greeted in the marketplace, and who like to occupy reserved seats in the synagogues and the first places at feasts. They even devour the widow's and the orphan's goods while making a show of long prayers. How severe a sentence they will receive!».

Jesus sat down opposite the Temple treasury and watched the people dropping money into the treasury box; and many rich people put in large offerings. But a poor widow also came and dropped in two small coins. Then Jesus called his disciples and said to them, «Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all those who gave offerings. For all of them gave from their plenty, but she gave from her poverty and put in everything she had, her very living».

«All of them gave from their plenty, but she gave from her poverty»

Fr. José MARTÍNEZ Colín (Culiacán, Mexico)

Today, the Gospel presents Jesus Christ as the Master, who speaks to us about the detachment which we must live by. In the first place, a detachment of our honor and recognition which, every so often, we are looking for: «Beware of (…) being greeted in the marketplace, and occupy the reserved seats in the synagogues and the first places at feasts» (cf. Mk 12:38-39). In this sense, Jesus prevents us from following the bad example of the scribes.

In the second place, detachment of material things. Jesus Christ praises the widow while regretting, at the same time, the deceit of the others: «For all of them gave from their plenty, but she gave [the widow] from her poverty and put in everything she had, her very living» (Mk 12:44).

He who does not live the detachment of worldly things does live full of his own ego, and is incapable of loving. In such a state of mind there is no “room” for others: neither compassion nor leniency or understanding towards our neighbor.

Saints provide us with examples. Here is a fact of Saint Pius X’s life, when he still was the bishop of Mantua. A merchant wrote slanders against the bishop. Many friends advise him to sue the slanderer, but the future Pontiff replied: «This poor soul is more in need of prayer than of punishment». He did not indict him, he prayed for him.

But that was not the end of it; after a while, this merchant went bankrupt. All creditors fell on him, and he lost everything. Only one person helped him out: it was the very same bishop of Mantua who, anonymously, sent him an envelope with some money, by saying that it was coming from the most Compassionate Lady, that is, from Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

Do I truly live the detachment of the earthly realities? Is my heart empty of things? Can my heart become aware of others’ needs? «The program of a Christian —the program of Jesus— is a “heart that sees”» (Benedict XVI).

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