Sermon for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Remembrance Sunday

“From the little she had, she has put in everything she possessed – all she had to live on”. 

Today’s Gospel calls us clearly to generosity, selflessness, sacrifice and to give without counting the cost.  This act of giving is both in the great things of life and in the small and indeed we need to start with the small, remembering Saint Therese who said “Do the little things of life with great love”.  This weekend on this Remembrance Sunday, the country remembers all those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in war, both in this century and in the previous.  There is an appropriateness in how the Gospel gives us a true sense of the meaning of sacrifice and it is that on this Sunday that we give thanks for.

The Gospel however, takes us deeper into that journey of selflessness and sacrifice.  It does with a telling observation for we read “Jesus sat opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the treasury”.  He is observing the varying pattern of selflessness and sacrifice.  Of course the perfection of that sacrifice will be He alone and we are called to mirror that.  Clearly He is watching and indeed waiting for that profound moment of generosity and selflessness.  He is waiting for the poor widow about whom he knows everything.  Christ is blessing this time of the widow’s worship, generosity and reverence.  It’s almost as though He is being caught up in it and is drawn into it as at the same time He wants us to become an integral part.

It’s a time of great intimacy as He is calling us to live this suffering love of the widow at a deep personal level.  It is the same journey as Elijah makes in the First Reading today as he calls another poor widow to great generosity.  She hardly had enough to feed herself and her son but still Elijah asks her to step out in trust and sacrifice.  She does so and is rewarded.  God here is entering into a human situation which is coloured by selflessness, sacrifice and suffering love.  The Second Reading from the Letter to the Hebrews speaks of Christ sacrificing Himself so that we can receive the reward of salvation.  The paradigm of Christian life is the suffering love of Jesus that we are invited to be part of.  It is that suffering love in its intimacy that we meet in the two widows today from the First Reading in the Gospel.  Christ is holding them up for our adoration, reverence and conversion.  It is the same way that Christ appears in our world as He goes deliberately to the poor, sick, suffering and abandoned.

Very soon we will commence on the weekend of the 12th, 13th December the Holy Year of Mercy called for by Pope Francis.  We are very privileged here at St Patrick’s that we will have our own Holy Door which we will be invited to go through as we seek to become Missionaries of Mercy.  There is a joyful invitation to be able to proclaim, live and practice the Mercy of Christ.  In preparation for that, we need to accept the providential invitation to come to know the intimacy of the suffering love of the two widows today.  Let us use them to make this journey of preparation very beautiful.

On Saturday we had a beautiful day with some of our volunteers as we reflected on how to use these precious weeks in preparation for the Holy Year.  There was a clear invitation to live and feed on the Word of God and to be able to discern through our reading and imbibing of the Word how God’s suffering love wants to meet our suffering love.  Also, there was the continuing invitation to give time to Eucharistic Adoration which means that we become almost like lovers as we meet Christ’s love for us with ours for Him.

Lastly, there is the invitation to meet intensely and to know how God loves us through the poor, marginalised and those living in loneliness.  They speak the language of the Holy Spirit.

If we are to proclaim this Extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy with joy we need to live it by journeying with the suffering love of Christ and we meet today two wonderful missionaries, the widows in the First Reading in the Gospel.  Also, as we remember the dead in a particular way on this remembrance Sunday we are given that noble task of praying for the Faithful Departed.  Let us be part of this wonderful journey together.