32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

The poor widow put in more than all the other contributors.

The poor widow gave everything that she had.  She did not have much, only a few coins, which the Gospel tells us, were only worth a few cents.  Yet it was all she had to give; it was her whole livelihood: it was all that she had to live on.  She gave it to the Lord and Jesus points her out because of her great trust in God.

We hear of a similar thing in the First Reading.  The Prophet Elijah went to a particular town, during a time of great famine.  There hadn’t been any rain, and therefore there weren’t any crops.  There wasn’t anything to be found to eat, anywhere.  He saw a widow and he asks her to give him something to eat.  The widow says that she was just getting ready to cook the last bit of the food that she has in the house and then her plan was to wait to die because there just wasn’t any more food.  Elijah promises her that if she trusts the Lord and gives him something to eat, that the Lord will miraculously provide for her and for her son.  And that is exactly what happens.

Because the widow trusted in God she and her son, and Elijah as well were all miraculously provided for.  God is not outdone in generosity, but we have to trust Him.  The widow in the Gospel could have held on to those few cents.  She could have reasoned and justified herself by thinking that she could not afford to give anything.  She might have thought: “I better hold on to these few coins; they are all I have left.  I can’t give them to God.”  Instead she realized that a few coins wouldn’t do her any good anyways; but if she entrusted herself completely to the Lord, she had faith that she would be provided for.  She was likely familiar with how God provided for the widow through Elijah and she likewise put all her hope in the Lord.

What both of these Scripture passages illustrate for us is the importance of relying upon the Lord.  We should not put our trust in the things of this world.  This world is passing away.  We were not made to live in this world forever; we were made to be forever happy with God in Heaven.  If we seek God first, everything else falls into place.  That doesn’t mean that our lives will necessarily become easy, there are always trials in this life; but we will find that if we put our trust in the Lord, He will always provide for our needs.

Another lesson we can learn from these passages is not to hold anything back from the Lord.  If the widow had not given Elijah something to eat the flower and the oil would have run dry, and she and her son would likely have died from the famine.  Jesus says it like this: If anyone tries to preserve their life, they will lose it; if anyone loses their life for my sake and the sake of the Gospel, they will save it.  (cf. Mk 8:35)

We are all called to be Saints.  We are all called to love God with all our hearts, with all our minds, and with all our strength; it is by making this radical gift of ourselves to God and to others for His sake that we will find true happiness.  If we aren’t Saints yet, it is because we are still too attached to something other than God.  We have to examine our hearts and ask ourselves what it is that we love more than we love God and then surrender that part of our lives to Him.

The goal is to conform ourselves to Jesus Christ.  Jesus didn’t just talk about this kind of total love; He fulfilled it on the Cross.  Jesus did not hold anything back on the Cross.  He gave everything that He had.  He shed every last drop of His Precious Blood for you and for me.  Jesus says that if we want to follow Him we have to deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him.  We have to imitate Him.

We can easily imitate the other people that we heard about in the Gospel, those who give of their surplus:  “God can have this part of my life, He can have this part of my heart; but this other part is mine.  I like this sin too much, God.  I am not ready to give up that part of my life just yet.”

God wants your whole heart.  God sacrificed His Beloved Son to save you from sin and death.  He doesn’t love your out of His surplus.  God IS love, and He loves you with all that He IS.  If a billionaire gave you several hundred thousand dollars, you would think that that was a pretty great gift.  Of course the billionaire would still have a lot more money leftover for himself.  God doesn’t just give you part of what He has; He doesn’t give you part of Himself.  He gives Himself totally, wholly, and completely to you in the Holy Eucharist.  The Eucharist is the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ: it is everything that He IS.  And He asks us to respond to Him, by giving Him ourselves: wholly and completely.

If we had to choose between a million dollars and receiving Holy Communion, which would we choose?  What if we chose the million dollars, thinking that we can always receive Communion next week, but then died the same night that we received the million dollars?  Could you imagine standing before God after choosing money over Him?  What would it profit you to gain the whole world and lose your soul?  We cannot serve both God and mammon.

Ask yourself this upcoming week: “Do I love God above all things?  What part of my heart have I not given over to God?  What part of my life am I not willing to sacrifice for God?”  Then ask God for the grace to give yourself completely to Him, just as He gives Himself completely to you.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, on fire with love for us, help us to love you with all our hearts and please you in all our thoughts, actions, and desires.