Thursday, 04 November 2021 15:31

The way of generous service

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32OTBWeb400In his teaching Jesus said, ‘Beware of the scribes who like to walk about in long robes, to be greeted obsequiously in the market squares, to take the front seats at the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets; these are the men who swallow the property of widows, while making a show of lengthy prayers. The more severe will be the sentence they receive.’

He sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the treasury, and many of the rich put in a great deal. A poor widow came and put in two small coins, the equivalent of a penny. Then he called to his disciples and said to them, ‘I tell you solemnly, this poor widow has put in more than all who have contributed to the treasury; for they have all put in money they had over, but she from the little she had has put in everything she possessed, all she had to live on’. (Mark 12:38-44)


Our readings this weekend should shape our response to those in need. It is two widows who show us the way to live according to the mind and heart of God.

The first reading tells of a poor widow’s generosity to Elijah the prophet. Even though she was down to her very last portion of food, which she was saving for her son and herself, she was prepared to share it with Elijah. Her reward was a never-ending supply of flour and oil.

The same generosity is shown by the widow (but not by the scribes) in the Gospel. Her dedication and generosity in the midst of her poverty was a real sacrifice.

The widow is a contrast to the wealthy scribes who parade around in long robes and make a show of lengthy prayers. Jesus condemns them for their insincerity, their use of religious show to enhance their status and their unjust exploitation of widows.

Jesus does not want his disciples imitating the showy religiosity of the corrupt scribes, but rather the sincerity and generosity of the widow who gave ‘her all’ just as Jesus will shortly give ‘his all’ on the Cross. It is a reinforcement of the messages about ‘coming to serve, not to be served’ which have dominated the last four weeks of readings.

The way of Jesus is not about show, but about sincere dedication and generosity in our service of God and one another. Remember the contrasting stories about James and John and Bartimaeus over the last couple of weeks.

Following Christ is not about giving the ‘left overs’ but giving everything. The two widows gave all they had to live on. Jesus will give his life for our salvation.

It is the kind of dedication and selfless generosity we see in people who put their own lives at risk while attempting to rescue others from disaster. Disciples are called to give all in their following of Jesus and in their generous service of others.

Read our Celebrating At Home prayers & reflections for this Sunday.

pdf Celebrating At Home 32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time [PDF] (3.18 MB)
default Celebrating At Home 32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time [ePub] (3.64 MB)


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