Home » Gospel Encouragement – Sunday 7th November 2021 – 32nd Sunday of the Year

Gospel Encouragement – Sunday 7th November 2021 – 32nd Sunday of the Year

Dear sisters and brothers,

Today’s Gospel is one of contrasts.  The Pharisees are presented as being proud, greedy and self-serving, while the widow is presented as humble, generous and full of faith.  Of course, this wasn’t true of all Pharisees, or of all widows, but the general picture presented of the Pharisees seems to reflect a sad norm of those times.  One of the questions that it gives rise to is, does it reflect the norms of our own lives as well?  Only we can answer that as the individuals that we are!

Returning to the readings, the Church reinforces the emphasis on the widow by reminding us in the first reading of the widow who, in the face of starvation for her and her son, shared the little she had with the great Elijah as well.  Yes, he had to cajole her into it, but her faith was also revealed in her belief that God would fulfil what Elijah had prophesied: that the food would not ever run out if she shared the little she had with him.

Both women gave everything they had to God, trusting that he would look after them.  We know that he did it for Elijah’s friend, but we’ll never know with the poor widow in Jerusalem.  But I suppose that that also begs the question: what does it mean to be looked after?  For us in the 21st century it is often decoded as meaning that he’ll give us financial security, good health, a happy family, and all the rest.  But that seems to me to be a western, romantic notion.  I’m not sure that the million or so Rohingya Moslems, violently expelled from Burma and living in extreme poverty in the most basic of refugee camps would agree with that definition of what it means to be looked after by God, or many others in horrific situations in the world.  I would imagine that even the poor widow of Jerusalem couldn’t envisage that either.  Life was hard; life was very hard!  And life is hard today; life is very hard, just in a different way.

Today’s readings invite us, yes, to be humble and generous and to be people of faith, but also to trust in God’s love, whatever life may throw at us: the collapse of our financial security, the death of a loved one, a life changing illness.  Whatever life may throw at us one thing is unchanging; God’s love for us and his permanent presence in our lives.  Our ever growing awareness of that truth gives us the hope to smile on the darkest of days, because we know we are not alone.  That’s what those widows had in common.  They had nothing, they faced death imminently, but they knew that God was with them whatever happened and, because of that, they could be generous.  God would be with them even if they gave everything they had away.

So, let’s pray that our faith would continue to grow deeper and deeper, so that our humility might grow in our awareness of God’s greatness.  So that our generosity might grow as we grow in our awareness of the greatness of the love that he generously pours into our lives on a constant basis.  And so that we might grow in faith that God will be there to support us through the bad days as well as the good, through the downs as well as the ups of life, and to trust our lives to his loving friendship.  Like the mother, or the spouse or the good friend who sees a sick person through countless trips to hospital, and the treatment that they have to receive and the decline in health that they may experience, God is with us as the best of parents, the best of spouses, the best of friends, carrying us through the darkest days of our lives.  So, let’s give him all that he asks of us as we gather here today; our deep and abiding faith in his constant, generous and ever faithful love.

With every blessing,

Simon (and Deacon Liam)