Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Kings 17: 10-16. Mark 12: 38-44
“As the Lord, your God, lives, I have nothing baked; there is only a handful of flour in my jar and a little oil in my jug. 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”
“For they have contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.”
The two quotes just cited above are taken from the First Reading for today’s Liturgy and from the Gospel chosen to be read on this Sunday. Each reading, as is evident from the quotes, is about the spiritual principle of surrender to God. We have spoken of this principle often, but it is of such importance to our spiritual lives that it is good to be reminded of it often.
In the First Reading from the Book of Kings 17: 10-16, Elijah the prophet went to Zaraphath where he saw a widow gathering sticks. He asked her for a drink of water. As she was going to get it, he called after her, “Please bring along a bit of bread.” She responded with the words given above in the opening quote. Elijah then told her not to be afraid, but to do as he asked, “For the Lord, the God of Israel, says, “The jar of flour shall not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, until the day when the Lord sends rain upon the earth.” She went and did as Elijah said and both she and her son were able to eat for a year; the flour and the oil did not go empty or run dry. The widow woman surrendered all she had to the Lord’s purpose and the Lord rewarded her trust by caring for her and her son.
The woman in the Gospel, also a widow, contributed to the temple treasury “all she had, her whole livelihood.” She gave to God the last of what she possessed for her future security. She literally gave herself to God. She too surrendered.
In both instances, these widows placed all their trust in God. They trusted that he would take care of them if they turned their lives over to him. This is surrender pure and simple. And, of course, we are to follow their example. I first became really aware of this principle when I became acquainted with the 12 Steps of AA, and the first thing I discovered is that it is very difficult to do this surrender thing when you are used to being in control. And the only way to do it is to do it and prove to yourself that it works. I did this when I finally surrendered my mentally handicapped brother to the Lord and then sat back and witnessed the miraculous things God did to take care of him. I couldn’t believe it; but then I knew that this surrender idea is for real!
If we let go and let God, God will be there for us. It is the letting go, the getting out of the way, the letting go of trying to control our own affairs, that is difficult. How do I know God will do it? But it does work! Our Liturgy for this Sunday reminds us to keep trying if we haven’t already succeeded in letting go and letting God.
Monday of the Thirty-Second Week in Ordinary Time, Nov. 9
Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome
Today the Church celebrates the dedication of the Lateran Basilica, the so-called Mother Church of Christendom. It is called the “Lateran” Basilica because it was built on land personally owned by the Laterani Family. It is really a feast reinforcing Christianity’s unity with the Holy Father, the Pope.
We should take a moment sometime during this day to remember our present Holy Father, Benedict XVI, in our prayers. May the good Lord be with him in these tumultuous times.
Tuesday of the Thirty-Second Week in Ordinary Time
Luke 17: 7-10
The Gospel chosen to be read for our Liturgy on this day really is dealing with the relationship between masters and their slaves. Slaves should not expect praise and rewards from the master for doing something they are obligated to do under their circumstances. We also see here the squelching of any idea that we can gain salvation all by ourselves strictly on human merit with no help from God’s grace. The Gospel informs us that we are unprofitable servants and, that being the case, we are dependent on divine intervention and grace for our salvation. Our salvation comes from God and not from anything we have done.
This Gospel, therefore, is against our carrying pride to the extreme that we are God. There are some people who think the sun rises and sets because of them. Sorry about that, Charlie Brown, it ain’t so.
Wednesday of the Thirty-Second Week in Ordinary Time
Luke 17: 11-19
Our Gospel for today is about the 10 lepers who met Jesus as he was traveling through Samaria and Galilee. They asked Jesus to have pity on them and he healed them as they were on their way to show themselves to the priests. Only one of them subsequently returned to thank Jesus for curing him. The chances are pretty good that you will hear this Gospel again on Thanksgiving Day, celebrated this year on November 26th. The Gospel choice for the Thanksgiving Day Liturgy is optional and more often than not this Gospel from St. Luke is chosen.
Recovering alcoholics are reminded often that they are not the primary cause of the gift of sobriety they now possess. It is a gift of God who alone is responsible for the change, as the 12 Steps inform us. The recovering alcoholic is encouraged to develop an attitude of gratitude for the gift he has received. All of us are “lepers” in the sense that we need God’s healing power in our lives. Let’s not forget to thank him when we are indeed healed.
Thursday of the Thirty-Second Week in Ordinary Time
Luke 17: 20-25
St. Luke in his Gospel now begins to speak to us of the coming of the Kingdom and the Son of Man. Many have waited for the second coming of Jesus, but up untill now it hasn’t happened. Just when it will happen is known to God alone.
In the meantime, Christians are to do their best to do the will of God, and we find that will of God particularly in the teachings of Jesus in the Gospel. We are to love God and our neighbor, take particular care of the poor and needy and forgive whose who hurt us in any way. We are to serve one another with our particular gifts and talents and love and pray even for our enemies. Resentments should be far removed from the disciples of Jesus. We should more or less forget about the future and focus on being the best we can be one day at a time.
In short, the will of God for us lies in the values Jesus taught us. It is good for us to honestly reflect from time to time on how well we are accomplishing this in our lives.
Friday of the Thirty-Second Week in Ordinary Time, Nov. 13
St. Frances Xavier Cabrini
St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, in 1946, became the first American citizen to be canonized a Saint when Pope Pius XII elevated her to this dignity. She is the patroness of immigrants.
Frances Cabrini was born in 1850 in Lombardi, Italy, one of 13 children. In 1880 she founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart with the purpose of caring for poor children in schools and hospitals. At the urging of Pope Leo XIII, she came to the United States in 1889 to work among the Italian immigrants. She soon founded many schools, hospitals and orphanages in the U.S. as well as in England, France, Spain and South America. She died in Chicago, Illinois on Dec. 22, 1917.
St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, pray for us.
Saturday of the Thirty-Second Week in Ordinary Time
Luke 18: 1-8
This parable of the persistent widow appears only in the Gospel of St. Luke. Its purpose is to show us the necessity and efficacy of constant prayer. Constant prayer is calling on the Lord day and night. It is like carrying on a constant conversation with God. We need not wait until our night prayers to thank him for our day and its many blessings. We can be talking to him and thanking him as the blessings happen – or the trials or sufferings or the grief and the sorrow occur.
We thank God for whatever comes and we talk it over with him. We tell God how we feel; we ask his help often during the day. Things always seem to work out better when we ask the Lord to be present and help us. Praying constantly is not praying to an extreme. We do all the things we need to do during the day, but we keep Jesus aware of what we are doing and focus on his being present to us all during our day.
Lord, what would I do, where would I be, without you?