Sunday, 11 November 2018 : Thirty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in this Sunday’s Scripture readings we are reminded that as Christians, in following God, we must always be generous in giving, and not to be stingy or greedy, in keeping all that we have to ourselves. This is shown through the reading taken from the story of the prophet Elijah and the widow of Zarephath, the passage from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Hebrews relating to us the loving sacrifice of Christ, and finally the story of the giving of the old woman who gave two copper coins to the Temple in our Gospel passage today.

First of all, the story of the prophet Elijah and the faithful widow of Zarephath happened at the time when the whole of Israel and the region was suffering from a great drought and famine, where rain did not fall for several years. Without rain the crops could not grow, and hence man and cattle alike suffered in great hunger. And this came about because of the great sins which the people of Israel and their king had committed before God.

The king of Israel at that time, king Ahab, was notorious among the many other kings of Israel, then ruling only the northern half of the divided kingdom of David and Solomon. Many of the kings of the northern kingdom were wicked in their actions and lives, and did not obey God as they should have done. As a result they led the people to sin, and king Ahab was noted as the one who was particularly wicked, especially due to the influence of his queen, Jezebel.

King Ahab further spread the worship of the pagan gods such as Baal, Asherah and many other Canaanite gods that the Israelites were exposed to from their neighbours. And the king also persecuted the faithful and those whom God sent to help save His people, that is the prophets. He also persecuted the prophet Elijah, who had to flee the persecution for the king and his forces were after his life.

As the sign of divine displeasure at the wickedness which all of Israel at that time, the prophet Elijah showed a sign, by which there was to be no rain throughout the land for three years, for the sins committed by Israel and its king. And it was in this state of the land in drought and famine that the interaction between the prophet Elijah and the widow of the city of Zarephath took place.

Zarephath itself was a small town in Sidon, in the land which was not considered as part of the land of Israel. It was the land of the Phoenicians, and likely that widow was not an Israelite. At that time, a non-Israelite person was usually considered as a pagan, as unbelievers who did not believe in God. They were often looked at with disdain and dismissed as unworthy by the Israelites who took pride in their status as the chosen race and people of God.

Interestingly, this is parallel to what we have heard in our Gospel passage today, regarding the moment when the Lord Jesus and His disciples were ar the Temple of God, and saw how an old woman placed a mere two pieces of copper coins, which had a very small value at that time, as compared to the rich people, who put in a lot of offerings and rich gifts to the Temple of God. And consequently, people must have paid attention to what those rich men had been doing, and ignored or even looked down on the old woman who gave so little in comparison.

And yet, we see in both circumstances, we see how those who were proud and filled with ego, faltered in the end, and compared to the ones who were looked down upon, ostracised, marginalised and discredited against, the latter ones were the ones who were in truth, truly faithful to the Lord. They put their faith and trust in the Lord and gave generously from whatever it was that they had, even those that they needed for themselves to survive on.

Surely as was in the case of the widow of Zarephath, she did have and show her reservations, and she was indeed afraid that she did not even have enough for herself and for her son to eat one last meal, when the prophet Elijah asked her for some flour and oil to make him a bread to eat. But in the end, she chose to trust in God and in the words of the prophet Elijah. She took the flour and oil and obeyed God even if that meant taking something from what she could have made for herself and her son one last meal.

Like the poor old woman in the Temple, the widow of Zarephath chose to trust in God wholeheartedly and gave even from her poverty. For the widow of Zarephath, she gave whatever food she could provide for the sustenance of God’s servant, Elijah, and for the old woman in the Temple, she gave everything that she could give, possibly most of her wage and possessions, for the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, have we been touched by the examples of these courageous women, who were counted among those who were always maltreated, ignored and ostracised from within our own communities? And ultimately, the best of all, as mentioned in the Epistle of St. Paul to the Hebrews, the Jewish Christians, that the Lord Himself has given everything, in ultimate obedience to His Father.

How is that so? Through the suffering that Our Lord Jesus Christ willingly endured for our salvation, He has placed Himself in complete trust to the will of His Father, despite the enormous and unimaginable sufferings and pains that He had to endure for our sake. Ultimately His even more unimaginably great love for each and every one of us is the reason why He was ready to take up the burden of the cross.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore do the same with ourselves, and learn to put our trust in God, by not fearing to give and share what we have for the greater glory of God, by sharing these blessings we have, in loving our fellow men and caring for those who are needy. If we do this, and if we have love for our fellow men, then we are doing what Christ Himself had done, and in doing so, we obey the Lord and love Him in the best way possible, remembering His own words, “that whatever you have done for the least among you, you have done it unto Me.”

Let us all therefore learn to love God with a new zeal and effort from now on. Let us turn to Him with our whole heart, imitating the great faith and dedication that the widow of Zarephath and the old woman in the Temple had shown us. Let us remember, that if we give it all to the Lord, and not worrying about the various concerns we may have over giving of ourselves to God, the Lord Himself will provide for us, as He did with the widow of Zarephath.

May the Lord bless us always, and may He continue to guide us in our path at all times. May He remain by our side, strengthening us and keeping us in His loving embrace, each and every moments of our lives. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Sunday, 11 November 2018 : Thirty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 12 : 38-44

At that time, as Jesus was teaching, He also said to His disciples, “Beware of those teachers of the Law, who enjoy walking around in long robes and being greeted in the marketplace, and who like to occupy reserved seats in the synagogues, and the first places at feasts. They even devour the widow’s and the orphan’s goods while making a show of long prayers. How severe a sentence they will receive!”

Jesus sat down opposite the Temple treasury, and watched the people dropping money into the treasury box; and many rich people put in large offerings. But a poor widow also cane and dropped in two small coins. Then Jesus called His disciples and said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all those who gave offerings. For all of them gave from their plenty, but she gave from her poverty, and put in everything she had, her very living.”

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Mark 12 : 41-44

Jesus sat down opposite the Temple treasury, and watched the people dropping money into the treasury box; and many rich people put in large offerings. But a poor widow also cane and dropped in two small coins.

Then Jesus called His disciples and said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all those who gave offerings. For all of them gave from their plenty, but she gave from her poverty, and put in everything she had, her very living.”

Sunday, 11 November 2018 : Thirty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Hebrews 9 : 24-28

Christ did not enter some sanctuary made by hands, a copy of the True One, but Heaven itself. He is now in the presence of God, on our behalf. He had not to offer Himself many times, as the High Priest does : he, who, may return every year, because the blood is not his own. Otherwise, He would have suffered many times, from the creation of the world.

But no; He manifested Himself only now, at the end of the ages, to take away sin by sacrifice, and, as humans die only once, and afterward are judged, in the same way, Christ sacrificed Himself, once to take away the sins of the multitude. There will be no further question of sin, when He comes again, to save those waiting for Him.

Sunday, 11 November 2018 : Thirty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 145 : 6c-7, 8-9a, 9bc-10

The Lord is forever faithful; He gives justice to the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free.

The Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord straightens the bent. The Lord loves the virtuous, but He brings to ruin the way of the wicked. The Lord protects the stranger.

He sustains the widow and the orphan. The Lord will reign forever, your God, o Zion, from generation to generation. Alleluia!

Sunday, 11 November 2018 : Thirty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Kings 17 : 10-16

So Elijah went to Zarephath. On reaching the gate of the town, he saw a widow gathering sticks. He called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel that I may drink.”

As she was going to bring it, he called after her and said, “Bring me also a piece of bread.” But she answered, “As YHVH your God lives, I have no bread left, but only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am just now gathering some sticks so that I may go in and prepare something for myself and my son to eat – and die.”

Elijah then said to her, “Do not be afraid. Go, and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me. Then make some for yourself and your son. For this is the word of YHVH, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of meal shall not be emptied nor shall the jug of oil fail, until the day when YHVH sends rain to the earth.’”

So she went and did as Elijah told her; and she had food for herself, Elijah and her son from that day on. The jar of flour was not emptied nor did the jug of oil fail, in accordance with what YHVH had said through Elijah.

(Usus Antiquior) Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Pentecost (II Classis) – Sunday, 11 November 2018 : Offertory, Secret Prayer of the Priest, Communion and Post-Communion Prayer

Liturgical Colour : Green

Offertory

Psalm 129 : 1-2

De profundis clamavi ad Te, Domine : Domine, exaudi orationem meam : de profundis clamavi ad Te, Domine.

English translation

From the depths I have cried out to You, o Lord. Lord, hear my prayer, from the depths I have cried out to You, o Lord.

Secret Prayer of the Priest

Hostias Tibi, Domine, placationis offerimus : ut et delicta nostra miseratus absolvas, et nutantia corda Tu dirigas. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

English translation

We offer You, o Lord, the sacrifice of reconciliation, that You may mercifully forgive our sins and direct our wavering hearts. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who with You lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

Communion

Mark 11 : 24

Amen, dico vobis, quidquid orantes petitis, credite, quia accipietis, et fiet vobis.

English translation

Amen, I say to you, whatsoever you ask when you pray, believe that you shall receive, and it shall be done unto you.

Post-Communion Prayer

Quaesumus, omnipotens Deus : ut illius salutaris capiamus effectum, cujus per haec mysteria pignus accepimus. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

English translation

We pray to You, o Almighty God, that we may receive the effect of that salvation of which we have received the pledge in these mysteries. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who with You lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

(Usus Antiquior) Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Pentecost (II Classis) – Sunday, 11 November 2018 : Holy Gospel

Liturgical Colour : Green

Sequentia Sancti Evangelii secundum Matthaeum – Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew

Matthew 13 : 24-30

In illo tempore : Dixit Jesus turbis parabolam hanc : Simile factum est regnum caelorum homini, qui seminavit bonum semen in agro suo. Cum autem dormirent homines, venit inimicus ejus, et superseminavit zizania in medio tritici, et abiit. Cum autem crevisset herba et fructum fecisset, tunc apparuerunt et zizania.

Accedentes autem servi patrisfamilias, dixerunt ei : Domine, nonne bonum semen seminasti in agro Tuo? Unde ergo habet zizania? Et ait illis : Inimicus homo hoc fecit.

Servi autem dixerunt ei : Vis, imus, et colligimus ea? Et ait : Non : ne forte colligentes zizania eradicetis simul cum eis et triticum. Sinite utraque crescere usque ad messem, et in tempore messis dicam messoribus : Colligite primum zizania, et alligate ea in fasciculos ad comburendum, triticum autem congregate in horreum meum.

English translation

At that time, Jesus spoke this parable to the multitudes, “The kingdom of Heaven is likened to a man who sowed good seeds in his field. But while men were asleep, his enemy came, and oversowed cockle among the wheat, and went his way. And when the blade of the wheat sprung up, and had brought forth fruit, then the cockle also appeared.”

“And the servants of the good man of the house coming, said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seeds in your field? Whence then the cockle had come from?’ And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.'”

“And the servants said to him, ‘Will you wish that we go and gather it up?’ And he said, ‘No, lest perhaps gathering up the cockle you root up the wheat also together with it. Suffer both to grow until the harvest, and in the time of the harvest, I will say to the reapers, ‘Gather up first the cockle, and bind it into bundles to burn, but the wheat all of you gather into my barn.'”