Homily for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Theme: DO YOU GIVE FROM YOUR HEART OR JUST A SENSE OF DUTY?
By: Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara
Homily for Sunday November 7 2021
(1KINGS 17:10-16; HEBREWS 9:24-28; MARK 12:38-44)
Today, the readings highlight the twin virtue of generosity and hospitality trusting in God’s providence. The Church reminds us that, as Christ generously offered himself for our salvation, we too must be generous to others. The gospel is like the first reading. Also, trusting in Divine Providence for her survival, the widow offered everything she had. She offered generously because, she knew and trusted the God she served. By placing her entire trust and future in God’s hands, she conquered her fear of the future, and the instinct of self-preservation.
Jesus in the gospel is simply saying that the gifts that we give to each other, and the things we worry about, have nothing to do with the way God sees us and the world. It is not what you give; the question is, does it really come from your whole heart. You see, without faith, your gift is meaningless. In other words, no matter how much money you give, no matter what you give to anyone, if it does not flow from a heart of love, then it’s an empty gesture. The value of every gift is in the heart, and when the heart gives, no matter what the gift is, how great or how small it appears in the eyes, it is a gift of oneself, because it is the sacrifice in your heart that you give, and that is where God is. And such gifts are blessed in God’s eyes. So, it is not about quantity but quality of love.
The emphasis is on the need, to sacrifice, and to love. The women in our first reading and our Gospel were in great need. The first is stricken with hunger and exhaustion, with the shame that she cannot even feed her own son, let alone a wandering prophet, and the grief that mother and boy are dying. And the widow in the gospel was overwhelmed by hunger and perhaps oppression from the elites. Of course, this kind of giving, giving not just out of warm feeling but in obedience to God, not just from one’s surplus but from one’s very self, is the giving Jesus Himself would demonstrate in that ultimate sacrifice described in our second reading. We may not be rich or powerful, but if we are willing to give from what little we have and are, the Lord rejoices, and He multiplies our efforts.
These women’s hearts were so loving that they never counted the cost of what they gave. And because it was so little, Scribes and Pharisees would pay little notice to them…. but Christ noticed. In the male-dominated society of Palestine that introduced the New Testament, the widow would symbolize all who have no voice, no means, and no power. Who would such people be today? Do we as individuals and as a church reach out to such people to help them improve their lot. Or do we only tell them to pray harder and everything would be all right, knowing quite well that it takes more than prayer to revive their fortunes? Isn’t it striking that these two widows, these two “silent ones,” speak the loudest to us today? They instruct us on the capacity of the human heart to rise above the sometimes unfairness of life and learn instead to become more compassionate and generous in all aspects of life.
Finally, the story of the widow is only the culmination in a series of people in the Gospels who abandon their false securities in the presence of God: as our great provider (Gen 22:14), “God is ready to supply all our needs according to his riches in glory, through Christ” (Phil 4, 19). He knows our needs and how to meet them. All we need to do is, to trust in his Divine Providence. In life, moments of scarcity, are moments of tests especially when you have done your best. They are moments to trust in Divine Providence. They are moments of great blessings. So, let us ask Christ to grant us a very generous heart especially towards the needy and the voiceless.
Have a blessed week!
Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara