Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

November 11, 2018

The Gospel of the Lord does not stop with the spoken word; it must be lived.  I see it all the time, and so do you, I’m sure: a kid who share his peanut and jelly sandwich with his little brother, just because; parents who sit up all night with a sick child or wait up all night for their teenage to come home; young soldiers who risk their lives in service to our country; caretakers of disabled family members and elderly parents;

people who donate to the multitude of causes and needs in the church and community; gardeners who transform that last zucchini into zucchini bread (and leave it on the pastor’s porch); friends who listen to your story again even though they’ve heard it a dozen times before because they know you need to tell it, again; teachers who give up their free time to help the kid caught in a drama that they don’t know how to handle.  

But the power of the gospel does not stop there either, not in what we do or we say, but it’s true power is w what God does once we have lived it.  That’s what God does.

To miss God’s piece of the equation is to set ourselves up for failure and disappointment and discouragement because no matter what we do, no matter how generous or how courageous we are, it won’t be enough.  No matter how virtuous our actions may be, how loving our responses to others’ needs, they won’t be enough. To think so is to make believe that the salvation of the world rests upon us. It does not. What does fall upon our shoulders, what we must do, is continue to live the gospel message every day in our lives so that God can do what God does.  We offer the spark that God ignites; we offer love for our brothers and sisters that God can fulfill. We don’t have to save the world. That’s what God does.

The names of the widow and her son have long been forgotten, if they were ever known.  But what they did that day when the prophet visited Zarephath centuries ago continues to offer hope for a world today.  The hope generated by their willingness to give their last loaf of bread and their last drop of oil will forever call people out of self-preservation and into sacrificial generosity.  We do our part, and God promises that the jar of flour will not go empty and the jug of oil will never run dry. God can do that.

The two small coins the poor widow dropped into the treasury could have easily gone unnoticed that day.  But it did not. Jesus noticed it, and it has been told for two thousand years as if we witnessed it ourselves.  It speaks to a place in hearts that God long ago prepared, a place that is prepared to know the fullness of love to which the world is called.  It is a fullness that, with our human efforts, no matter who small and insignificant, God can fulfill. That’s what God does.

A long time ago a young man by the name of Jesus made a choice to give the only treasure he had left to offer - his life on a cross.  To most of the world that act of generosity went unnoticed. To others it was seen as a waste of life that could have been avoided. But God took that sacrifice, that act of giving, and turned into THE moment that has transformed all of history and every vision of tomorrow.  God can do that.

Our generosity and compassion, our acts of charity and sacrifices of time, our willingness to part with our treasures and courage to give of our time and hearts, these are all things that will make a difference in our lives, possibly in someone else’s.  We can fill a belly with food, calm a fear or help balance a budget of a parish or charity. But all of that, good as it is, is but a whisper of the salvation that God shouts. Because that’s what God does.

 

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