Homily for the 32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B

Generosity and Trust in Divine Providence

Readings: 1st: Kg, 17, 10-16; Ps 145; 2nd: Heb 9, 24-28; Gos: Mk 12, 38-44

This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico. He is the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canóvanas, and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. He was the chancellor of the Diocese of Fajardo Humacao, Puerto Rico. Fr. Canice is a member of the Academy of Homiletics. For more details and comments contact him at: canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com; canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com

(https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8452-8392)

Today, the thirty-second Sunday of ordinary time, the church encourages us to learn and appreciate the virtues of generosity and hospitality. As Christ generously offered himself for our salvation, she reminds us that we, too, must be generous to others. One theme common to the readings of this Sunday is generosity and trust in Divine Providence.

In our first reading, Elijah, the prophet of God, tested the widow of Zarephath’s generosity and faith. Like Oliver Twist (of Charles Dickens’ 1838 famous novel), Elijah kept asking for more. However, despite the widow’s poverty, she was generous to him.

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Fear of the future is one of the greatest enemies of generosity and prosperity. Elijah knew how afraid the widow was. Indeed, her fear was genuine. That is, given the circumstances beyond her control at that moment. So, Elijah started by addressing and calming her anxiety: “Do not be afraid! Then, he prophesied to her: “For the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour shall not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry…'”

Indeed, this prophecy was fulfilled in the widow’s life, and she lacked nothing afterward. Her faith and trust in God’s word, and of course, in Divine Providence never failed her. Instead, her situation changed and improved beyond here expectations. Her life was transformed from penury to plenty, from misery to luxury, and from poverty to prosperity.

The second reading also highlights Christ’s generosity. With trust in His Father, He generously offered himself as “a holy and living sacrifice” (Rom 12:1). What he offered or lost generously through his suffering and death, He victoriously gained through his Resurrection and Ascension. This was God’s supreme reward to Christ for His supreme generosity.

The gospel is similar to the first reading. Also, trusting in Divine Providence for her survival, the widow offered everything she had. She was generous because she knew and trusted the God she served. By placing her entire trust and future in God’s hands, she conquered her fear of the future and the instinct of self-preservation.

There are many lessons for us in today’s readings. First, all the figures in our readings were generous. Second, they all trusted in Divine Providence. They teach or remind us of these simple principles of generosity and prosperity: “Givers, never lack” and “Blessed is the hand that gives, and a hand that receives.”

In life, moments of scarcity are moments of tests. They are moments to trust in Divine Providence. They are moments of great blessings. So, Tobit advises us that: “It is better to give alms than to treasure up gold…. Those who perform acts of charity and righteousness (generosity) will have the fullness of life” (12, 8-9).

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Finally, as our great provider (Gen 22:14), “God is ready to supply all our needs according to his riches in glory, through Christ” (Phil 4, 19). He knows our needs and how to meet them. All we need to do is to trust in His Divine Providence. So, let us ask Christ to grant us a very generous heart, so that we can sow with joy because: “God loves a cheerful and generous] giver” (2 Cor 9:7).

Peace be with you!

Maranatha!

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