in Ordinary Time-1
A Homily - Cycle B - 2011-2012
by Fr. Luke Dundon
First Reading - 1 Kings 17:10-16
Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 146:7, 8-9, 9-10
Second Reading - Hebrews 9:24-28
Gospel - Mark 12:38-44
Mark wrote to explain Christ
to the new Gentile converts.
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 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.
Down in the southern-most reaches of South Carolina, there is a little place called Parris Island. In that non-descript area of land, about 16,000 Marines pass through every year to be trained in one of the most elite forces the world has ever seen. They are stripped of their civilian attire and given utilities and boots. They are no longer addressed by their first name Ė from now on their last name will suffice. Privacy is a thing of the past - - - TEAMWORK is a thing of the present. And it certainly HAS to be this way, in order to survive. All their visible strengths and adornments are stripped down, they now have to give from the IN-visible heart, which is a growing pain. They are made to give from that which they themselves havenít always trusted - - - itís time to give from what little they think they have . . . and, in the Corps, THAT makes the difference between life and death!
A couple weeks ago, millions of people were literally swamped by a storm of gargantuan proportions. They had so much taken away, but they still had to do their best with what they had, for their own good AND for the good of their family, neighbors and friends. But that wasnít the end - - - they had even more taken from them with a noríeaster that rolled through this past week. 167,000 more without power. Stripped down to so little, pushed to the limit. But, based on reports from my brother up in Jersey, theyíre re-building, people are coming together, theyíre helping one another out, from the HEART . . . and theyíre receiving the love of people such as the parishioners of St. Philipís, who have literally sent truck-loads up north. All the result of countless trips inside this hallway. One bag of blankets at a time. One case of water at a time. Wondrous to see!
We all know times when we are pushed to limits that might test our own sanity. We enjoy contributing, we want to be a part of the team Ė but we may not feel we have the strength. We may be asked to give that which we really donít THINK we CAN give. And, how ironic Ė we are MOST EFFECTIVE when we have nothing lift to lean on, and THATíS why Jesus notices a poor widow, over ALL those people! They offered from their ample surplus. She offered from what little she had left. But itís amazing what that LITTLE can do - - - it can help save the life of a fellow Marine. It can help cheer up a neighbor whose basement is flooded. It can grab the attention of God Himself.
Our Lord has given us some pretty awesome gifts. Some are obvious. Others are not so obvious until nothing else is left. He wants us to offer it ALL back to Him, the big stuff AND the little stuff - - - I mean, itís easy to wake up and say, OK, Lord Iím offering you this Mass, Iím offering you this workday, Iím offering you this bag of groceries . . . but, when the budget is tight and the food pantry is low . . . when the co-workers donít understand what youíre going through, when youíve been up all night and yet need to help out at the 8:00 Mass - - -, then the LITTLE things make every bit of difference. Then itís not simply the ďworkdayĒ which I can offer, but a patient personality with the person next to me. Itís not simply the bag of groceries, but perhaps some time handing out food which need to be addressed, but the broken hearts of your neighbors who need someone to listen to their stories on the phone, reminding them that theyíre not alone.
We each have amazing gifts. The big gifts AND the small gifts. And the SMALL gifts make all the difference. Jesus showed us that today. We may not think itís worth much, but our own small gifts, the ability to lead a project, say a kind word, encourage someone, or offer a listening ear, can make all the difference in someoneís day and someoneís life. Our young Marines know this. The people up North in New York and New Jersey know this. And our Lord certainly knows this, as He reminds us today Ė offer ME everything, including the little gifts which are STILL TUCKED inside your heart - - - offer ME everything, ESPECIALLY if you think itís not worth offering - - - offer ME everything, and youíll get back more than you could possible imagine Ė ETERNAL LIFE WITH ME!