Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sunday 32B. The Widow's "Might": the rewards of faith, hope and love for those who give heroically of self for God and others

 "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."

The "backstories" of the widows in today's Scripture readings tie their lives to our own experiences. Tragedies such as the death of a spouse or a child and setbacks such as joblessness, homelessness and other privations in this world such as we see for those who have suffered through another natural disaster this week can serve to be of great value for us despite, and because of, the physical suffering they bring.

The widow is faithful in giving of herself through worship in the temple despite her personal tragedies and trials, an example for family and others.  She could be out collecting sticks, begging or working for food, working very hard to make sure she has some food or money for tomorrow.  Instead, she is in the temple?  Praying?  This is not very practical at all!

"Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury."

Her offering is a symbol, a sign of the greatest gift: that of self which must begin with God before truly available for others. Her faith, hope and love frees her for living authentically: a daily relationship of trust in God's providential care.

We suffer through great betrayals of God and others in this world. Will we learn by these unwanted and distasteful circumstances to put God first through faith?

The widow's mite showed her true "might": she has already learned and lives from what she learned, that "the world as we know it is passing away". She gives to God as if completely unconcerned about the needs of tomorrow not recklessly but in generous love, knowing she already possesses the treasure for her which is more precious than all others, even the sure knowledge of the certainty of another meal.

"For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood."

Will we learn the lesson of the widow, and live with her "might", as strength that comes from God for the sake of self and others, the gifts of faith, hope and love?

"Jesus enjoins his disciples to prefer him to everything and everyone, and bids them 'renounce all that [they have]' for his sake and that of the Gospel. Shortly before his passion he gave them the example of the poor widow of Jerusalem who, out of her poverty, gave all that she had to live on. The precept of detachment from riches is obligatory for entrance into the Kingdom of heaven." (CCC 2544)

We have here a greater gift by far than the worship of the temple: we have the Temple not made by human hands, "destroyed in three days and raised up", the Lord himself, Jesus Christ in Word proclaimed and truly present in Sacrament.  How well can we learn from the example of the widow to love and worship Him here and then to go forth to love and serve him in all of our brothers and sisters, born and pre-born?  This is the spiritual sacrifice He desires and makes possible through the gift of Himself here.  This is the true worship of faith, hope and love that saves!

“The age of casual Catholicism is over, the age of heroic Catholicism has begun. We can no longer be Catholics by accident, but instead be Catholics by conviction.”

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