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32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

As members of the Church we are taught to give of our time, our talents, and our treasure in service to the Gospel.  But how much is enough?  Scripture is quite clear on this subject… this is an “all in” proposition, as our readings this week tell us:

1 Kings 17:10-16
Psalm 146:7, 8-9, 9-10
Hebrews 9:24-28
Mark 12:38-44

Our first reading comes from the 1st Book of Kings.  In our passage this week, Israel is suffering a great drought, and the great prophet Elijah is on the run from King Ahab.  He comes to the gates of Zarephath, a city North of Israel between the cities of Tyre and Sidon.  There he meets a widow and her son.  Tired and thirsty from his journey, he asks the widow for some water and some bread, whereupon we learn that they too are suffering, having  only enough flour and oil to last one more day.  Elijah asks her again to make him some bread, and that the Lord will make sure that her jars of flour and oil will no t run dry until the end of the drought.  We are told that all three were able to eat for a full year, as God had promised.  This promise that the Lord will provide is reflected in our Psalm as we sing “Praise the Lord, my soul.”

The widow from our first reading was willing to give everything she had, her last remaining bread, to Elijah.  Our Gospel from Mark, we see Jesus teaching about two different widows.  In the first part of our Gospel, we hear Jesus chastising the scribes for taking advantage of wealthy widows.  Jesus then moves to a place opposite the temple treasury where he can watch the people making their offerings.  He points out that the wealthy are putting in large sums of money.  Then he point to poor widow who drops in just a few coins.  He tells his disciples that this poor widow has contributed far more than the wealthy donors, for while they are contributing from their surplus wealth, this widow was giving all she had.  It begs the question, who gave more?

Our second reading continues our study of the Letter to the Hebrews.  Here the author is drawing a comparison between the annual blood sacrifices made by the Temple priests to that of the blood sacrifice Jesus made on the cross.  Whereas the Temple priests are not giving their own blood, Jesus, our High Priest, gave all he had as a single, final sacrifice, rendering any other sacrifice inconsequential.

Final Thoughts:
So how much are you will to bet?  How much are you willing to put in?  Scripture is consistently clear on this issue:  When it comes to serving the Lord, you must be willing to go “all in.”  Following Christ isn’t something we just do on Sunday’s for an hour.  Rather, it’s an everyday, lifelong pursuit.  The Lord expects nothing less than our entire effort.  And yet we hesitate.  We are quite naturally afraid of that kind of commitment.  Giving is not something we do instinctively.  Our animal nature is to take and to hoard, storing for that rainy day.  What parent hasn’t had to constantly remind their children to share?  Parents know that learning this behavior is good.  Similarly God is calling us to share.  How do we know this is the right thing to do?  Like that child, we have to trust that this is right and good.  God has shown time and again that when we give our all, he will give us his all.


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