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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Monday of the Thirty-fourth Week 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): When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins. He said, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.”

“She, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.”

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

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

Because these small things go mostly unnoticed, their bona fide intention is not in question: we are not to seek either recognition or human glory for them. Only God will discover them in our hearts, in the same way as only Jesus could see the poor widow's generosity. It is more than certain that this poor woman did not sound the trumpets to announce what she was doing, and it is even possible she was ashamed and felt ridiculed in the eyes of the wealthy who while offering splendid gifts to the Temple treasury, were making sure others admired their generosity. Yet, that woman's unselfishness in giving the two small coins despite her poverty, deserved the Lord's praise: “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood” (Lk 21:3-4).

The widow's generosity is a good lesson for us, Christ's disciples. We can be as extremely generous, as the wealthy people who were “putting their offerings into the treasury” (Lk 21:1). But, none of this will be worth our while if we only give “from our plenty,” without a loving or generous spirit, without offering ourselves as well. Saint Augustine says: “They looked at the great offerings from the wealthy and they praised them for that. And, even if they 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 even more so with us.

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • “Never keep an account of the coins you give, since this is what I always say: if, in giving alms, the left hand is not to know what the right hand is doing, then the right hand, too, should not know what it does itself.” (Saint Joseph Benedict Cottolengo)

  • “The Scripture invites us to consider almsgiving with a more profound gaze that transcends the purely material dimension, teaches us that there is more joy in giving than in receiving.” (Benedict XVI)

  • “The tenth commandment forbids avarice arising from a passion for riches and their attendant power.” (Catechism Of The Catholic Church, Nº 2552)