Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B.
1 Kings 17:10-16; Psalm 146:7,8-9, 9-10 (1b);
Hebrews 9:24-28; Mark 12:38-44
The people of the parish were dressed in their Sunday best, most likely the only dress clothing they owned. Time was not a factor as they praised and worshipped God with joy and uplifted spirits that deeply touched my core. This scene—etched in my memory from a service trip taken many years ago—immediately came to mind as I reflect on this Sunday’s readings. When our shuttle bus first arrived in the area, I thought it had stopped on the side of the road, not realizing we were where we were supposed to be. The poverty was so overwhelming that the children asked us for our shoes so they could attend the camp we were there to staff. Yet, when it came time to worship, they “put aside” their challenges and in hope gave their all to the honor and glory God.
The widows of the First Reading and the Gospel likewise stand before God in their poverty and in their faith. As women of integrity and hope, they too “put aside” their life challenges and gave their all, relying on a future that lies beyond the materialism and narcissism that can rule and ruin many lives. A future offered by our loving God in the promise of Jesus.
Sacred Scripture teaches we are made in the image and likeness of God. It is only natural then for us to be drawn towards a deeper relationship with God who intends us to be of like heart, mind and soul. If last week’s Gospel affirmed this teaching and gave us the blueprint for living a strong moral life, we see in these readings the how-to directions for discipleship. Truly putting God first, allows us more freedom in sharing ourselves as people of integrity who order our actions in ways that birth hope and flow God’s generative love out into the world. Jesus’ whole life of putting God first is a testament to this freedom.
However oftentimes in our reality of being faced with never-ending “to-do-lists” and the occurrence of unplanned events, etc.., we may be tempted to put God on hold. Yet in truth we know these challenges are part of our journey as disciples who work to bring God’s transforming grace and peace into the world.
Our readings invite us to examine our spiritual practices in regard to our love of God; they challenge us to put what we profess with our lips into action. In responding to this invitation, perhaps we can look to the example of the widows and the people in that parish who courageously made the choice to deal with their challenges by keeping God in the center. Perhaps we can take a “pause” in our busyness and begin by scheduling some God moments throughout our day and look forward to them as times of refueling and stewarding ourselves into becoming stronger disciples for bringing God’s justice to the world.
Sister Barbara Ann Sgro, O.P.