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  Word To Life

Sunday Scripture Readings, Nov. 11, 2012

By Jeff Hensley
Catholic News Service

November 11, Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Cycle B. Readings:

1) Kings 17:10-16

Psalm: 146:7-10

2) Hebrews 9:24-28

Gospel: Mark 12:38-44

My wife's maternal grandmother was Polish and lived out most of her adult years in the North Side neighborhood of Fort Worth, Texas. Twice widowed, she was elderly by the time she was 50 and lived a hard life, eking out a living for herself and her three girls after the death of her first husband.

Just this week, my wife and I were comparing her generosity to that of the widow Jesus characterizes in this week's Gospel reading from Mark. Jesus describes her giving only a small sum to the temple treasury, a mite, but says that she had "put in more than all the other contributors." They had given from their abundance, out of their surplus wealth, he said, "but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had."

That was Mrs. Dolan. She did others' washing, took in a boarder to help with her household expenses, provided for her daughters and yet bought a marble altar for her church, made major contributions toward the seminary education of a priest who's now served 40 years in our diocese, and during the holidays managed to make a place at her table for any of her old acquaintances who found themselves without family. Even this accounting fails to mention the family members whose difficulties forced them under her roof for extended periods.

I can imagine that sometimes, as in the case of the widow Elijah entreated with his seemingly unreasonable request for water and a bit of bread, Mrs. Dolan must have cried out to God when another demand was made on her scarce resources. But she responded to the need nonetheless. And so God provided for her and her family.

The Hebrews passage speaks of how Jesus' sacrifice, giving of his own blood rather than the blood of animals, surpasses that of the annual sacrifice of the high priest. The author of Hebrews says, not in these exact words, that Jesus' sacrifice is an eternal, ongoing act, not having to be suffered repeatedly.

I like to think that the sacrifices of those redeemed by that blood echo across the decades and centuries in like fashion, eternal in their own imitation of that first eternal sacrifice.


Have you known those of God's people who seem to give beyond reason but still find their own basic needs met? What lessons can you draw from their generosity?


"The Lord protects the resident alien, comes to the aid of the orphan and the widow." -- Psalm 146:9


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