Nov. 8 is the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B, Cycle I). Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to make a pastoral visit to Brescia, Italy, today.
Nov. 11 is Veterans Day, a time to thank those who were willing to put their lives on the line for us by serving in the armed forces. It also happens to be the feast of St. Martin of Tours, who was a soldier.
Pope Benedict XVI addressed the legacy of St. Martin of Tours two years ago on his feast day.
“While many miracles are attributed to him, St. Martin is known most of all for an act of fraternal charity,” said the Pope.
“While still a young soldier, he met a poor man on the street, numb and trembling from the cold. He then took his own cloak and, cutting it in two with his sword, gave half to that man. Jesus appeared to him that night in a dream smiling, dressed in the same cloak,” he said. “May St. Martin help us to understand that only by means of a common commitment to sharing is it possible to respond to the great challenge of our times: to build a world of peace and justice where each person can live with dignity.”
There are many stories of the generosity U.S. troops have shown to the children and families in the regions in which they are stationed overseas. To share some of these with your children, type “Iraqi Children and U.S. Troops” into YouTube’s search engine. Make sure to preview anything you show your children from YouTube — and make your window smaller to include just the video you’re watching.
Tell them what the Pope said about St. Martin of Tours, and pray for the troops with them.
1 Kings 17:10-16; Psalm 146:7-10; Hebrews 9:24-28; Mark 12:38-44 or 12:41-44
Today’s first reading and Gospel demonstrate the importance of tithing by using widows as examples.
Widows are often mentioned in both the New Testament and Old Testament because they are poor and defenseless. That means they are (as today’s Psalm makes clear), in a special way, in the care of the Lord. But they are also a perfect analogy to every Christian.
When they were married, they were joined in a religious ceremony. A priest put the spouses in the care of one another. When their husbands died, the religious community said things like “The Lord took him” or “He is with God.” What is clear is that God allowed their deaths. Widows might very well feel they have been left exposed, without a provider. In an Aug. 10, 1994, audience, Pope John Paul II said those who are separated or divorced are analogous to widows.
Christ went out of his way to show widows his care: He raised the son of one widow, he used a widow’s long unanswered pray--ers as a lesson in the parable of the unjust judge, and he criticized scribes who abused the position of widows.
The widow’s challenge is to see God’s care for her despite her predicament.
That’s our challenge, also. We all are placed by God in the world, a place where there are abundant resources but where, at some point, we have to fend for ourselves.
Ultimately, the illusion of reliance on human strength, or self-reliance, is just that: an illusion. Providence provides for us. Our job, for the most part, is to receive from God — who provides in a way that is practically hidden to us.
Today’s readings praise the generosity of two widows. The first reading’s widow is willing to share her last flour and oil with Elijah the prophet. In return, her flour miraculously never runs out. In the Gospel, the widow shares from all she has. One presumes that she, too, was taken care of.
When we keep our gifts to ourselves and try to live off of them, we are destined to fail. When we put them in the hands of God, who gave them to us in the first place, we place ourselves in his hands, too.
Tom and April Hoopes were editorial co-directors of Faith & Family magazine. Tom Hoopes is writer in residence at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, and a former Register editor.