It was really great – so I asked him for it and present it to you today.
Homily for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B – By Deacon Gene Kelenski
November 11, 2012
So Jesus said to His disciples, “this poor woman put in more than all the other contributors, although her amount was the least.” He proceeded to explain that this was from her livelihood and not her surplus.
But that is just touching the surface of a deeper message. A deeper message, which is consistent in all the gospel stories, a message seen in all the behaviors and conversations of Jesus, with all who he comes into contact with, including Pilate and those who crucify Him. It is a message about the role of the human heart in all relationships, including with God. It is the role of our sincerest intentions as seen in our behaviors, our speech, our sense of truth, and in the honest discovery of who we are in God’s eyes… and not who we may pretend to be.
In every conversation Jesus bypassed the fad or politics of the day, the political correctness, the self-centeredness, and he went directly to the heart. You and I spend a lifetime growing in understanding of that dimension of our humanity. This is the deepest understanding of who we are in our relationships with ourselves, others, and that God who is within each of us.
Every day we set our relational gauges with those around us, based on whether they are strangers, acquaintances, friends, family, significant people in our lives, or our spouse. Even with God. And we can tell the settings by how close each one of these is to our hearts. The closer they get, the more vulnerable we are, the more loving and unselfish we are. With Jesus the setting is always the same, right at the heart of God and the other. This is our role model, our goal – always from the heart, a real stretch, but not impossible, and surprisingly enough, often demonstrated by ourselves and those around us. Being the loving heart, alive in relationships to those around us is the Christian ideal, and it shows up in the most interesting settings.
The sincerity of the response in the first reading, by the woman asked by Elijah to make him something to eat, was not that she made it, but rather her belief that God would take care of her and her son after she gave the last of her food away. She understood that she and her son were completely vulnerable by giving Elijah what he needed. Like the women who gave from her need in the Gospel, it as not really about the amount, but by what was given. It was done from the heart of service and of faith! How often do you and I give from a heart of service and faith? More often than you might think! It does not matter what the value is, or the degree of difficulty in relation to what others do, rather where it came from, that place of all human love, that dwelling of God within us, our heart and soul, the center of our being. Jesus was the role model for this deeper giving, so are we, and there are other role models around us. Some of them are very close to us, and age is of no consequence, some are younger and some are older.
You may remember a story that I have already shared with some of you at another time. My father bought a snow blower in the late 1950’s. I think that this was the first Montgomery Ward snow blower ever sold! It was a monster, built like a Sherman tank! It weighed a ton and had a mind of its own, dragging you around. It has an 8 horsepower engine that could take two men to pull!
Until the year before he died at 88, my dad did his own driveway and the driveway of every widow on the block – and that was a number that kept growing! When dad was 87, my son-in-law trailered his own snow blower over to dad’s to do the driveway. After he left, the garage door went up, the snow blower, still working, came out with its monster force, with dad behind it to take care of the ladies’ driveways. For dad, such effort was a work of the heart, beyond question. It was not a consideration; he just did it, with my mother yelling in the background, “you are going to kill yourself!”
These types of relationships with neighbors are what drew people to Christ, and what drew people to early Christian communities. It still does today! In our efforts in Faith Formation, we work to identify the experiences that young people find most inviting and most supportive of learning their faith. Guess what it was? Service! Rolling up your sleeves, from soup kitchens, food pantries, McDonald house, to animal shelters, to Schuyler Ridge, Spaghetti dinners, collecting items for our female troops, which they are working on today. Add to that the homeless shelter, raking leaves, raising money and on and on. Just like my dad snow blowing the driveways! For the young it s much more meaningful of the heart; it leaves them vulnerable – and yet with faith filled memories.
You are all of the heart; that what it means to be Christian. Me too- maybe not all the time, but we know what it feels like and looks like. We don’t come here to get honor, because no one really cares, we don’t come here to be held in high esteem by the person next to us, we are all concerned more about what faces us later in the day or the week. Will we have the energy and faith to confront what lies ahead?
So we come here because it is a place of the heart, something we can’t really explain. It is why the Widow gave from what little she had, and why we give from ours. It is the reason others choose to come here, why the church has lasted 2000 years, with all of its flaws and human frailties.
It is how Christ encouraged us in the early days of community, and what we continue today as a Catholic family and community in Christ. It is giving of the heart. It began with Jesus and continues in each of us in our faith, and in some of the most human and simplest activities of our day.
And as always, we renew this tradition of sacrifice, here at the Table, where we, as one Body, are in heartfelt service to one another and to God, and to all of God’s people.