6th/7th November 2021

posted 10 Nov 2021, 05:13 by Parish Office

Homily for the Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

(6 & 7/11/21)

Appearance, and reality: the two are not always the same. The scribes who went about in fine clothes, who were highly esteemed, treated well – little did people know the reality of their souls. Or what about the rich, who poured a vast amount into the Temple treasury? Imagine the sound of all those coins, music to the ears of the Temple priest. And then imagine the sound of the poor widow putting in her two small coins – maybe no one heard the sound of them being added onto the pile of other coins. Maybe people wondered if she had put in anything at all. But hers was the greater gift. God looks at the heart.

And what did he find when he looked at the heart of each of these people? The scribe, who appeared to be a good and religious man: perhaps he found there someone who was attached to riches, to his own comfort; faith in God took second place. In fact his position enabled him to feather his own nest, using religion to be well-treated and liked by wider society. Aren’t we glad to have someone like him, they might have thought, whilst we live surrounded by the occupying and interfering Roman army, keeping God on our side and our enemies at bay? And what about the rich? Aren’t we glad that they are so generous, funding repairs to the Temple, being people of intelligence and reason, the pillars of our country etc. etc. As for the widow, well, she needn’t have bothered with her contribution. And besides, isn’t she being rather reckless, throwing the little she has into the Temple treasury? Doesn’t she think how she is going to pay for this evening’s meal?

But that’s not how God thinks. The scribe: his religion is rotten. In Deuteronomy it says: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is the one Lord; and you shall love the Lord you God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” (Deut 6:4) But instead of love of God, there is love of riches and comfort, and luxury, and wealth, and status. God has become a means to that. The things of God are still part of his life, but they are not the central focus. They are not where all his zeal and interest are aimed. And what good he fails to do, because of that. And what damage he does, because of that.

The rich: yes, your money is there for doing good, and yes, you are doing something of that. Your gifts to the Temple will certainly be put to good

use. But they don’t excuse you from the work that needs to be done to your heart. “What I want is love, not sacrifice” – in other words, prevention is better than cure. Love of God, not sin followed by almsgiving to atone for sin. Reform of life, not using wealth as a Get out of Jail Free card.

And the widow: someone who lives, not only unencumbered by wealth, but also someone who isn’t dominated by the desire to accumulate wealth either. Someone who puts her complete faith in God, knowing that God is faithful, that He will provide. Perhaps hers is a rather simple faith. Unlike the scribe, she can’t quote chapter and verse of the Law and take her part in detailed discussions about the minutiae of the precepts in the book of Leviticus. But she understands what it means to put God first, and, even more than that, she actually puts God first as well. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Which of these do we seem to copy ourselves? And what do we need to do next?