Homily for the thirty-second Sunday of the Year - Year B - Mk. 12:38-44


by

Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
 
 

" In his teaching Jesus said, «Beware of the scribes, who like to go about in long robes, and to have salutations in the market places and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows' houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.»


" And he sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the multitude putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came, and put in two copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him, and said to them, «Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For they all contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, her whole living.» "




Homily:


" In his teaching Jesus said, «Beware of the scribes, who like to go about in long robes, and to have salutations in the market places and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows' houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.» "


The words of Jesus which we hear in today's Gospel were pronounced by the Master a few days before his death, probably on the Tuesday of Holy Week. Jesus knows that his end is near, that soon his soul will be separated from his body. Jesus knows that he will soon join his Father in heaven: like any man or woman who comes into this world, Jesus, at the end of his life on earth, will give up his soul to God his Father. We, too, are coming to the end of a life: that of the liturgical year.


When a man or woman gives up his or her soul to God, at the end of this life, it is in order to be judged by him: that is the time of the particular judgement, the judgement which takes place at the moment of death, and which anticipates the great judgement of all men: the Last Judgement. But, for Jesus, it cannot be so: Jesus is God, like his Father, and it is as a sovereign Judge that Jesus gives up his soul to God his Father. Also, when Jesus, a few days before his death, teaches his disciples, it is to speak to them about Judgement, and in particular about the Last Judgement (cf., inter alia: Matthew, chapters 24 and 25). It is in this spirit that the Church, each year, when the liturgical cycle reaches its end, proposes readings to the faithful which deal with the end of man's life and his judgement by God.


In this Sunday's Gospel, Jesus is already judging those among the scribes who act for the sake of their own glory instead of seeking that of God. There is no room for leniency or mercy in the words of the Lord: those who act badly "will receive the greater condemnation." Vainglory, pride in all its forms, avarice, these are sins and faults that the Lord will judge severly, along with lust and impurity. For it is truly the glory of God which is stolen and usurped when one enjoys any sexual pleasure apart from a licit conjugal act: one prevents God from exercising his power to create a new human soul!


" And he sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the multitude putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came, and put in two copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him, and said to them, «Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For they all contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, her whole living.» "


Again, Jesus judges. Already, he glorifies the poor widow who put into the Treasury of the Temple all that she had, her entire means of subsistence. How misleading are appearances! If God gives us the grace of admitting us into Paradise - something I wish for us all! - I believe that everyone will be quite surprised to see who will be near God and who will not - alas! - be there... What a reversal of fortune it will be! How many rich people will there be in Paradise? Certainly very few. And most probably none in the highest places!


To have money, a house, one or two cars, very lucrative employment, none of these things are bad in themselves. It is above all one's intention that counts. It is on this intention that we will be judged. It is the intention of the widow that Jesus glorified in the eyes of his disciples: the two small coins that the widow put into the Treasury were worth her entire life! But the mountain of gold and silver of the other givers was worth three times nothing... What can God do with our gold and silver? It is our heart which God wants for himself! Even if we have nothing, neither gold nor silver, there is still one thing that we can give to God, the only thing which has value in his eyes: our love!


Even if a priest (or a deacon), a fortiori, a bishop, even were he the Bishop of Rome, had nothing to give, neither gold nor silver, the most important thing would be for him to give himself with faith and love! Let us call to mind Peter, the first Pope, who had neither gold nor silver but who did not hesitate to perform a healing in the name of Jesus, even at the risk of his own life: "Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, [a man lame from birth] asked for alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, with John, and said, «Look at us.» And he fixed his attention upon them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, «I have no silver and gold, but I give you what I have; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.» " (Acts 3:3-6)


We will soon receive Jesus in his Eucharist. Let us give ourselves fully to him! Let us ask Mary, the Mother of us all, to help us to give ourselves to God! May Mary accompany us on this path of faith and love, a path she was the first to travel, all the way to the foot of her Son's Cross!



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