32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

This Sunday’s Gospel reading is quite interesting. There are two forms of it, a “long” and a “short form”. Most parishes use the “short form”, and for good reason as it holds the real teaching, the real fruit of the Gospel for this Sunday; but the “long form” holds an interesting lesson if put in a modern context.

The “long form” of the Gospel includes the important story, or rather lesson in Mk 12: 38-40, of the cautioning against the scribes. It goes as follows:

“In the course of his teaching Jesus said to the crowds,
Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes
and accept greetings in the marketplaces,
seats of honor in synagogues,
and places of honor at banquets.
They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext
recite lengthy prayers.
They will receive a very severe condemnation.”

What a powerful image and lesson, and furthermore, what a powerful warning for those in a position of spiritual leadership, especially for any Theologians or Hierarchy who act in this way. Woe to them! That’s not the real flesh of this Gospel however, but a side note to the more important passage that follows:

“Jesus sat down opposite the treasury
and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury.
Many rich people put in large sums.
A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.
Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them,
“Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more
than all the other contributors to the treasury.
For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth,
but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had,
her whole livelihood.”

I love the beauty and simplicity with which Our Lord teaches such a profound lesson on Stewardship. I think that Jesus is giving us a clear mission here by continuing the constant theme of detachment and self giving. We need to become more aware of how attached we’ve become to material things and the need for money. How do I spend? How do I donate? Besides money, how do I give of my time and talents for the glory of God and the good of the Church? How do I detach myself from material goods and wealth? Have I given of myself today? These are all questions I ask myself when I hear this passage proclaimed or it comes up in my daily spiritual readings. So, I ask you, how have you practiced stewardship? Have you recently given of your time, talent, or treasure, have you done any charitable acts of kindness, any spiritual or corporal works of mercy?

Let’s all try to be more like that poor widow and give totally of ourselves and what we have (within reason) to the glory of God and the good of the Church. Let’s all practice more charity, more spiritual and corporal works of mercy; let us dear friends strive toward holiness and sanctity together as good stewards of our homes, communities, parishes and the Church at large. One also can’t forget the call to be good stewards of the beautiful blessing of all of natural creation. Let’s leave this Earth a better place than we found it.

Are you ready to be good stewards and saints? I know I am!

*Gospel: Mark 12: 38-44 (short form is verses 41-44)

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