Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary TimeB
Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary TimeB

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Reading 1: (1 Kgs 17:10-16)

In those days, Elijah the prophet went to Zarephath.
As he arrived at the entrance of the city,
a widow was gathering sticks there; he called out to her,
"Please bring me a small cupful of water to drink."
She left to get it, and he called out after her,
"Please bring along a bit of bread."
She answered, "As the LORD, your God, lives,
I have nothing baked; there is only a handful of flour in my jar
and a little oil in my jug.
Just now I was collecting a couple of sticks,
to go in and prepare something for myself and my son;
when we have eaten it, we shall die."
Elijah said to her, "Do not be afraid.
Go and do as you propose.
But first make me a little cake and bring it to me.
Then you can prepare something for yourself and your son.
For the LORD, the God of Israel, says,
'The jar of flour shall not go empty,
nor the jug of oil run dry,
until the day when the LORD sends rain upon the earth.'"
She left and did as Elijah had said.
She was able to eat for a year, and he and her son as well;
the jar of flour did not go empty,
nor the jug of oil run dry,
as the LORD had foretold through Elijah.

Reading 2: (Heb 9:24-28)

Christ did not enter into a sanctuary made by hands,
a copy of the true one, but heaven itself,
that he might now appear before God on our behalf.
Not that he might offer himself repeatedly,
as the high priest enters each year into the sanctuary
with blood that is not his own;
if that were so, he would have had to suffer repeatedly
from the foundation of the world.
But now once for all he has appeared at the end of the ages
to take away sin by his sacrifice.
Just as it is appointed that human beings die once,
and after this the judgment, so also Christ,
offered once to take away the sins of many,
will appear a second time, not to take away sin
but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.

Gospel: (Mk 12:38-44)

In the course of his teaching Jesus said to the crowds,
"Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes
and accept greetings in the marketplaces,
seats of honor in synagogues,
and places of honor at banquets.
They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext
recite lengthy prayers.
They will receive a very severe condemnation."

He sat down opposite the treasury
and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury.
Many rich people put in large sums.
A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.
Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them,
"Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more
than all the other contributors to the treasury.
For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth,
but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had,
her whole livelihood."


Written by: Fr. Anthony Dinh M. Tien, OP.

 

I. THEME: God requires us to sacrifice our life for others.

 

            Many of today people are afraid of sacrifice because it affects their body, will and time of enjoyment; but if all people are afraid of it and live selfishly, how can this world be remained, not to mention improvement. True love demands people to sacrifice all what they have, not only their surplus. People can only evaluate an act from outside, but God can evaluate it according to faith and love which people have for God and for others. The highest act of sacrifice one can have is to sacrifice his own life for God or for others.

            Today readings illustrated the heroic sacrifices of some people who had to sacrifice their necessary needs, even their own life. In the first reading, the author reported the heroic sacrifice of the Zarephath’s widow. She courageously shared her last flour and olive oil with the prophet Elijah even though she knew that she and her son might be dead because of hunger after that. Due to her trust and charity, she never run out of flour and olive oil until the famine is over. In the second reading, due to the heroic sacrifice of Christ on the cross, people’s sins are redeemed, death is destroyed and people can have eternal life. In the Gospel, Jesus taught his disciples to have the divine eyes to rightly evaluate human acts. Worldly people are easily be deceived by pompous acts, but Jesus’ disciples must look deep and evaluate according to people’s intention, even one very simple and plain acts, as the widow put two small coins in the treasury box.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: Charity demands sacrifice, even in danger of death.

           

1.1/ God’s wonderful providence for the prophet Elijah: To understand today passage, one needs to read the whole chapter 17 of the First Book of Kings. The prophet Elijah asked God to stop rain and dew in the whole area for three years because the Israel king and the Israelites forsook God to chase after foreign idols and their own ways. The famine happened and many people died of hungry and thirsty. God commanded the prophet Elijah to live in a valley which had a hidden spring of water and he was provided with food by ravens. When the spring was out of water, God sent him to Zarephath to be raised by a widow there.

            When he arrived at the entrance of the city, a widow was gathering sticks there; he called out to her, "Please bring me a small cupful of water to drink."She left to get it, and he called out after her, "Please bring along a bit of bread.""As the Lord, your God, lives," she answered, "I have nothing baked; there is only a handful of flour in my jar and a little oil in my jug. Just now I was collecting a couple of sticks, to go in and prepare something for myself and my son; when we have eaten it, we shall die."

           

1.2/ The widow’s faith and charity for the prophet Elijah: Nothing terribly affects people as hunger and having no water to drink. Not many people want to give their food or water because they have to preserve for themselves. This widow was put in a difficult situation because the prophet’s request shall have an effect on her and her son’s life.

            (1) Elijah’s request: The prophet believed in God’s power, so even he knew her difficult situation, he still said to her: “Do not be afraid! Go and do as you propose. But first make me a little cake and bring it to me. Then you can prepare something for yourself and your son. For the Lord, the God of Israel, says, 'The jar of flour shall not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, until the day when the Lord sends rain upon the earth.'”

            (2) The widow’s reaction: Her act is the heroic act because it showed her deep faith in the prophet because she didn’t know God’s plan for her as the prophet. “She left and did as Elijah had said” even though she and her son can be died after that.

            God rewarded the one who showed her faith in Him and her charity for the prophet. "She was able to eat for a year, and he and her son as well; the jar of flour did not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, as the Lord had foretold through Elijah.”

2/ Reading II: Christ poured out his blood to redeem people’s sins.

           

2.1/ The difference between Christ’s and the Old Testament high priest’s offerings: The author of the Letter to the Hebrews compared Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary with the high priest’s offering which is done every year on the Day of Atonement, and he recognized these following differences:

            (1) The places are different: "For Christ did not enter into a sanctuary made by hands, a copy of the true one, but heaven itself, that he might now appear before God on our behalf.” The Old Testament’s sanctuary is the Holy of the holies, the innermost of the temple, made by human hands; while Christ’s sanctuary is the heaven where God dwells, not made by human beings.

            (2) The effects are different: Christ’s sacrifice happened only once and has an everlasting effect, as the author said, “Not that he might offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters each year into the sanctuary with blood that is not his own; if that were so, he would have had to suffer repeatedly from the foundation of the world. But now once for all he has appeared at the end of the ages to take away sin by his sacrifice.”

            The blood of animals can only take away venial or unitentional sins, and must be repeated many times; while Christ’s blood is much more efficient, it can forgive all sins even though it was poured out only once.

           

2.2/ Christ sacrificed his life to bring salvation for all: Before doing anything, Christ as also human beings think about the result. We talked about the three main results due to Christ’s sacrifice: First, his Father’s will is fulfilled. God wants human beings not to die for ever, but to live happily with Him for ever. Secondly, Christ shall become king of all people. Lastly, human beings are forgiven of their sins and reconciled with God. They can reach their ultimate goal which God presets for them.

            Due to these results, Christ wanted to be incarnated, to dwell among people and to sacrifice his life through his Passion, Death and Resurrection. Moreover, Christ knew that his sufferings are only temporal, but the results shall last for ever, as the author of the Letter to the Hebrews said, “Just as it is appointed that human beings die once, and after this the judgment,so also Christ, offered once to take away the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to take away sin but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.”

            This must be the lesson for people to learn. Many people complained that if they keep sacrificing, they shall die some day! Christ taught us that if we must sacrifice to the point of death to benefit God and others, we should do it as he did. Death isn’t the end, God shall give back our life and reward us what we sacrificed for others. Many saints poured out blood to witness for Christ and to sacrifice for others because they understood Christ’s philosophy of life. If one is afraid of dying for others and lives a selfish lifestyle, he still can’t avoid death. He shall be judged by God according to what he doesn’t do to others. Remember that we only have one life to show our faith and love for God and others, so we should live in a way that our life has a meaning.

3/ Gospel: “She, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.”

           

3.1/ Don’t judge others according to their outside appearances: A Vietnamese adage says, “It is not the cowl that makes the friar.” This sentence means a true friar must live according to the law, not just to put a cowl on himself. In today passage, Jesus displayed bad habits of those who used their religious uniform for financial gain, “Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces, seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets. They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext, recite lengthy prayers. They will receive a very severe condemnation.”

            These people can deceive the innocent; but they can’t deceive God who can see through all secrets in their heart. They shall be strictly judged because they used religion for their illegal ambitions.

3.2/ Try to look deep in others’s inside intention: Not only Jesus taught his disciples to stop judging according to worldly standard, but he also taught them how to look deep in people’s mind through their contribution in the temple.

            (1) To judge according to worldly standard: Many people shall praise those who put a big amount of money to the treasury box, and concluded that they are so generous with God’s house. Jesus taught his disciples not to easily draw such conclusion because that amount might be only their surplus.

            (2) To judge according to God’s standard: When Jesus sit there and “saw a poor widow who also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, "Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood."

            God doesn’t judge according to the amount which people contribute in because He gives people different talents and amount of things; He shall judge according to their effort. Many times Jesus said, “whoever is given much, more shall be asked back.” This means they shall be judged heavier. Besides the amount, this poor widow showed her great faith in God. She didn’t worry about storing up for her future need; but she completely believed in God’s providence.     

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - Charity demands us to sacrifice until the end, even to the point of death. We can achieve this requirement because we believe that we shall not die for ever. God shall gives us back our life and rewards us what we did to others.

            - Our exemplary to follow is Christ. He sacrificed his life to incarnate, to preach, to heal and to die for our sins on the cross in order to achieve salvation. We should imitate him in all what we do in this present life.

            - When we must evaluate human acts, we shouldn’t evaluate them according to worldly standard; but if we try to see deeply in their motivation and intention, we shall properly evaluate their actions.

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