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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Monday 34th in Ordinary Time

1st Reading (Dan 1:1-6.8-20): In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came and laid siege to Jerusalem. The Lord handed over to him Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and some of the vessels of the temple of God; he carried them off to the land of Shinar, and placed the vessels in the temple treasury of his god. The king told Ashpenaz, his chief chamberlain, to bring in some of the children of Israel of royal blood and of the nobility, young men without any defect, handsome, intelligent and wise, quick to learn, and prudent in judgment, such as could take their place in the king's palace; they were to be taught the language and literature of the Chaldeans; after three years' training they were to enter the king's service. The king allotted them a daily portion of food and wine from the royal table.

Among these were men of Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. But Daniel was resolved not to defile himself with the king's food or wine; so he begged the chief chamberlain to spare him this defilement. Though God had given Daniel the favor and sympathy of the chief chamberlain, he nevertheless said to Daniel, «I am afraid of my lord the king; it is he who allotted your food and drink. If he sees that you look wretched by comparison with the other young men of your age, you will endanger my life with the king». Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief chamberlain had put in charge of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, «Please test your servants for ten days. Give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then see how we look in comparison with the other young men who eat from the royal table, and treat your servants according to what you see».

He acceded to this request, and tested them for ten days; after ten days they looked healthier and better fed than any of the young men who ate from the royal table. So the steward continued to take away the food and wine they were to receive, and gave them vegetables. To these four young men God gave knowledge and proficiency in all literature and science, and to Daniel the understanding of all visions and dreams. At the end of the time the king had specified for their preparation, the chief chamberlain brought them before Nebuchadnezzar. When the king had spoken with all of them, none was found equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; and so they entered the king's service. In any question of wisdom or prudence which the king put to them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his kingdom.
Responsorial Psalm: Dan 3
R/. Glory and praise for ever!
«Blessed are you, o Lord, the God of our fathers, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever. And blessed is your holy and glorious name, praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages».

«Blessed are you in the temple of your holy glory, praiseworthy and glorious above all forever».

«Blessed are you on the throne of your Kingdom, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever».

«Blessed are you who look into the depths from your throne upon the cherubim, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever».

«Blessed are you in the firmament of heaven, praiseworthy and glorious forever».
Versicle before the Gospel (Mt 24:42a.44): Alleluia. Stay awake! For you do not know when the Son of Man will come. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Lk 21,1-4): Jesus looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasure box; He also saw a poor widow dropping in two small coins. And he said, «Truly, I tell you, this poor widow put in more than all of them. For all gave an offering from their plenty, but she, out of her poverty, gave all she had to live on».

«She, out of her poverty, gave all she had to live on»

Fr. Àngel Eugeni PÉREZ i Sánchez (Barcelona, Spain)

Today, as it happens so often, small things go by unnoticed: small alms, small sacrifices, small prayers (jaculatory prayers); but what, at times, may look small and unimportant, it frequently represents the warp and also the culmination of master works: be it great works of art, be it the maximum goods deeds of personal saintliness.

Because these small things are mostly unnoticed, their bona fide intention is out of question: we are not to seek in them neither recognition nor human glory. Only God will discover them in our heart, in the same way as only Jesus could see the poor widow's generosity. It is more than certain that poor woman did not play trumpets to announce what she was doing, and it is even possible she was ashamed and felt ridiculous before the eyes of the wealthy, who, while offering splendid gifts into the treasure box, were making others feel admired at their liberality. Yet, that woman's unselfishness, that caused her to drop the two small coins despite her poverty, deserved the Lord's praise: «Truly, I tell you, this poor widow put in more than all of them. For all gave an offering from their plenty, but she, out of her poverty, gave all she had to live on» (Lk 21:3-4).

The widow's generosity is a good lesson for us, Christ's disciples. We can be extremely generous, as the wealthy people that were «putting their gifts into the treasure box» (Lk 21:1). But, none of this will be worth the while if we only give “from our plenty”, without any loving or generous spirit, without offering ourselves along. St. Augustine says: «They looked at the great offerings from the wealthy and they praised them for that. And, even if the could see the widow later on, how many did notice those two coins...? She gave whatever she had, for she had God in her heart. But she had plenty, for she had God in her heart. It is better to have God in our soul than gold in the safe». Quite true: Let us be generous with God and He will be much more so with us.