Homily 32nd Sunday of Year B: Fr. Michael U. UdoekpoReadings 1 Kings 17:10-16; Ps 146:7-10; Heb 9:24-28 and Mark 12:38-44
Our Jars of Flour shall Never Go empty!
In the light of today's readings we are called to be generous stewards to one another through our imitation of Christ, our high priest and prophet. Of course, by so doing our jars of flour would never go empty. What does this mean? Answers to this question are found in the storyline of today's readings. In the readings of today Christ is the type and the kind who identifies with the marginalized and replenishes the poor, be it of the Zarephath of today’s 1st reading (1 Kings 17:10-16), or of the Temple of Jerusalem, in the Gospel (Mark 12:38-44), or of those ones in Africa, Asia, Europe, America, and of every place. He loves and reaches out to each of them as a priest and prophet. And emptied himself on their behalf. This distinguishes him from the Levitical priesthood of the Book of Leviticus, and makes him a perfect high priest of the Letter to the Hebrews (Heb 9:24-28) - simple, pure, selfless, generous, charitable, humble, decisive and simple. A prophet and a true steward of God his father. He teaches us how to be self-giving, and how to be God’s stewards through the manner in which we deal and relate with one another.
The travelling prophet Elijah we are told in the 1st reading while fleeing from the hatreds of Ahab and Jezebel was generously received by the desperate widow of Zeraphat- whom he in turn blessed and multiplied her food. In fact, just as the prophet Elijah would never lack food because he challenged the idolatries of Ahab and Jezebel, the widow’s jar of flour would never go empty, nor her jug of oil, because she received God's prophet! God rewards and replenishes a generous steward, a charitable person, a courageous prophet and a humble Christian!
This is why, Christ, while preaching in the temple warned his disciples to be aware of the scribes who love to go around in long robes and prefer front seats of honor in synagogues and temples, and expects greetings from everyone at market places- thereby taking advantage of the poor and the widows. They like to take more than they give. In fact, the disciples should rather imitate the poor widow of today’s gospel who emptied her treasury for the Lord.
Speaking of her(the widow), Christ says, “She from her poverty has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood,” unlike the wealthy who contributed very little from their wealth and Surplus.
Clearly, these two women- that of the Zeraphath who fed the prophet Elijah, and that of the Jerusalem who gave everything out of her poverty to support the Temple are models of true stewards and examples of total self-giving, trusting in the blessings of the Lord. They are the complete opposite of those who have, yet refuses to share their gifts and talents with others.
These widow's life styles and the courage of Elijahfit the life-style of Christ described in the 2nd reading. Though, sinless, he courageously offered to go to the cross on our behalf and offered the blood that was his own not of the calf, nor of the bull!
Such sacrifices and stories are challenging to us especially when we think of the current disparity between wealthier and poorer nations, or between wealthy and the very poor, today. No matter the religion, how many of us would courageously challenge the idolatries of our time, closed their count for the sake of their religious community or to feed the poor and support the needy or their pastors in need. How many of us today, would prefer to put others first, before them? And how many people in long robes, or those in the elite group today would prefer the back seats at synagogues and during important functions so as to make room for the lowly? Today’s Scripture challenges us to humility, to charity, to offer to help, to have pastoral foresights, to assist those that need help(example abounds in all cultures) and to dirty our hands and our shoes for the sake of the poor, immigrants, and travelers, as constantly emphasized by Pope Francis! And if we do that our jars of flour shall never go empty nor would our jug of oil run dry!