November 09, 2018. With the invitation to understand that God is more moved by the offering of our heart, than by the gifts we bring to the altar.
XXXII Sunday of Ordinary Time – Year B- November 11, 2018
1 Kgs 17:10-16; Ps 146; Heb 9:24-28; Mk: 12, 38-44
Let’s give with happiness and we will receive more in joy.
Feast of Christ the King
Is: 49: 1-7; Ps 21; Phl 2:5-11; Lc 23:36-53
The Lord reigns from the Cross
1)The Kingdom of God is priceless, but it is everything that one has (Saint Leo the Great, Sermon 32,2)
In the first reading and in the gospel we read about two women who are widows and don’t have any means of economic or human support. However, they have two characteristics that every believer should possess:
total abandonment to God (as we can see in the first widow who welcomes and does what the prophet asks)
faith in God for whom we are happy to renounce what we need for our living.
In the yard of Salomon’s Temple, there were always thirteen baskets where to put the offerings. The wealthy who gave generously had their names cried out by the priests for the admiration of all the people.
In today’s gospel, we see a poor widow who donates the few coins that are all she owns. Nobody praises her. Jesus, however, sees her and points her out to his disciples using the words He reserves for the greater teachings: “In truth, I tell you”. Jesus has finally found what he was looking for, a true sign whose authenticity is guaranteed by two qualities: wholeness and faith.
The poor widow has donated not something unnecessary but all she possessed. To give away what is superfluous is not yet love nor faith. On the contrary, to donate to the point to risk even our own life, that is faith.
In her simplicity, the widow knew that” The Kingdom of God is priceless, but it is everything that one has. In the case of Zacchaeus, it was worth half of his property, because the other half he reserved to return four times to those who he had cheated (Lc 19,8). In the case of Peter and Andrew, it was worth the nets and the boat (Mt 4,20); for the widow, it was worth only two cents (Lc 21,2), for another it will be worth maybe just a cup of cold water( Mt 10,42) (Ibid) Therefore the Kingdom of God is worth everything that one has.
What, if we don’t have anything? “Suppose, however, that we do not even have a cup of cold water to give to the poor Christ. Well, in this case, it is the Word of God at the birth of the Redeemer that helps: the Angels sang, ”Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will “( Lc 2,14). In front of God, our hand is not without a gift, if the ark of the heart is full of good will. That’s why the psalmist says, “In me are, O God, the votes that I give you, to you I rise up my praise.”(Ps 55,12). ( Ibid)
Besides the fact that God doesn’t need anything and that all the wealth that we have comes from Him, we must be assured that God is not “fed’ by our gifts but moved by the offerings of our heart.
2) God doesn’t weight the quantity but the heart.
Paolinus of Nola writes; “our Lord, the only good, the only god, doesn’t want to receive for calculation of greed, but for generosity of affection. What is lacking to the One that gives all things? Or what does not own the One who is the master of the gentry? All wealthy are in his hands, but his immense goodness and justice want that we make a gift of his own gifts so that He has a way of mercy towards us because He is good. He really makes us a credit for which we are worthy because He is right.”(Letters 34, 2).
The one who is able to exert truly and continuously the virtue of evangelical poverty creates in himself the spiritual disposition necessary to become capable of loving God the way He wants to be loved and puts himself on the right path towards sanctity.
In this situation the soul puts faith and hope in God, becomes its own master and frees itself from the angst of the world, reaching the highest level of peace. This is the reason why Jesus said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit because theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Mt 5,3).” This is why Saint Francis of Assisi who had understood well Jesus’ admonition, left everything behind and married “Poverty.”
Poverty of spirit is a “vacuum” that only the Infinite can fill. To be poor in spirit is the way to be human, or better it is the way to be sons and daughters of God.
To clarify this concept I’ll use an example taken from the life of Saint Francis of Assisi. Before his conversion, Francis was squandering with friends the money of his rich merchant father, Bernanone. When he started living with friends that were following the rules of the Gospel, he was living in poverty. Bernanone, worried for his son’s change of life and for the family money he was using for the poor, consulted the church hierarchy. In front of the bishop, Bernanone asked his son to choose between the “old’ and the “new” life. If Francis would have not returned home, he would have to repay his father back. Francis gave back even his dress. The bishop then covered the naked Francis with his mantle. I think that the Saint of Assisi didn’t simply renounce material goods. With that sign, he chose God as father, the Church as mother and marrying “Poverty” he became the saint of joy.
The Rite of Consecration for the consecrated Virgins states:” O forever faithful God, be their pride, their joy, and their love. Be for them comfort, light and help in poverty. Be their wealth, their food in privation, their recovery in sickness… In you, they own everything because it is you that they prefer above all things”. (# 24)
In respect of poverty for the consecrated the Blessed John Paul II wrote, “Even before being a service on behalf of the poor, evangelical poverty is a value in itself, since it recalls the first of the Beatitudes in the imitation of the poor Chris. Its primary meaning, in fact, is to attest that God is the true wealth of the human heart. Precisely for this reason evangelical povertyforcefully challenges the idolatry of money, making a prophetic appeal as it were to society, which in so many parts of the developed world risks losing the sense of proportion and the very meaning of things. Thus, today more than in other ages, the call of evangelical poverty is being felt also among those who are aware of the scarcity of the planet’s resources and who invoke respect for and the conservation of creation by reducing consumption, by living more simply and by placing a necessary brake on their own desires. Consecrated persons are therefore asked to bear a renewed and vigorous evangelical witness to self-denial and restraint, in a form of fraternal life inspired by principles of simplicity and hospitality, also as an example to those who are indifferent to the needs of their neighbor. (Vita Consacrata, March 25, 1996, nr 90).”
God loves the one who gives with joy.
Another example of a person who gave everything is Mother Theresa of Calcutta. Her face had the freshness and the peace of those to whom poverty has taught that they don’t have anything to defend. She used to say:” Before being a sacrifice, poverty is love. To love, one shall give. To give, one must be free from selfishness”. All the times that I had the good fortune to meet Mother Theresa, I saw her happy because she was free. She lived the freedom of poverty not because she didn’t have anything but because she was asking the love of Christ, praying and sharing. To be with her was as to be in front of a window open onto heaven. Observing her I could see that she was lending her hands to God to help the poorest of the poor.
Blessed John Paul II wrote:” Poverty proclaims that God is man’s only real treasure. When poverty is lived according to the example of Christ who, “though he was rich … became poor” (2 Cor 8:9), it becomes an expression of that total gift of self which the three Divine Persons make to one another. This gift overflows into creation and is fully revealed in the Incarnation of the Word and in his redemptive death (Post- Synodal Apostolic Exhortation. VitaConsacrata, nr. 21).”
Man is evangelically poor when, along with Saint Paul, considers the material goods “nothing, rubbish” or values them as the instrument to reach the goods of heaven: “I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ (Phl 3, 8).”
We will be as the widows of today’s lectures if we will give with joy what we are able to give it little or much.“God loves the one who gives with joy and the one who gives with joy, gives more (Mother Theresa of Calcutta).”
In order to be able to do so, it is enough to recite often the “Magnificat” reminding to ourselves that when we give to the poor we “lend” to God what we have received from Him.“ What do you possess that you have not received?” (1 Cor 4,7)
Christ the King sitting on the poor throne of the Cross.
There are six Sundays in the Advent of the Ambrosian liturgy there are six Sundays. Today it celebrates the last feast of liturgical time, the feast of Christ the King.
To connect this feast to the meditation of the Roman liturgy, I’d like to make two considerations. Christ is not a king because he reigns on fear but because He carries the universe on the Cross, the“poor” sign of his love for us.
Let’s carry our daily cross with the knowledge that it is a small part of the one of Christ. Let’s sign ourselves often with the sign of the Cross aware that all benedictions are given with it. Let’s pray as Mother Theresa did: