Welcome Back to Banquet of the Word!
Join us every week for background on this Sunday readings.
Our mission is simple:
We want to help everyone in “pew-land” get more out of mass.
Gift of Self
The Life of the Widow
Fun Fact: Who was Elijah?
The story of Elijah is found in the Old Testament books of I and II Kings. He proclaimed that Yahweh was the one true God, and called the people to repent of their worship of false gods, their abandonment of the covenant and their sinning against the commandments. When he died he was taken to Heaven in a fiery chariot and a whirlwind.
(The 1st Reading is Old Testament. It always links to the Gospel.)
The first reading is directly connected to our gospel today. We hear the story of a mother and her son who have lost hope. They are essentially preparing for their death. All they have left is a bit of flour and oil. They plan to make what they can with that and wait for death.
Enter Elijah, one of the most profound prophets of the Old Testament. Elijah gives us a glimpse of what Jesus will do and be. Elijah approaches the widow and well, he tells her what to do. Instead of making a cake for herself and her son, he says no – make a cake for me. This is what Jesus will say to the widow in the gospel, and ultimately to us. He will ask us to give to Him first, and to trust the rest. And how much did the widow in this story give? She gave everything she had, the only things she had.
And she – and her son – were rewarded. A final thought I had at mass today was, what if this is a foreshadowing of Mary’s fiat, the “Yes, Lord” she gives when the Angel Gabriel asks her to be the Mother of God? This widow is with her only son. She is of humble beginnings and has no spouse. Elijah asks her to give everything over to him – the tangible and the intangible; her flour and oil and her trust and hope. He said to her, “Do Not Be Afraid,” the same words spoken to Mary by the angel Gabriel.
(The Psalm is a “response” to what we heard in the 1st Reading)
Psalm 146 is at the tail end of the book of psalms, and is thus one of full on praise. Listen to the themes here from our first reading about the hungry and the widow.
The LORD keeps faith forever,
secures justice for the oppressed,
gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets captives free.
The fatherless and the widow he sustains,
but the way of the wicked he thwarts.
The LORD shall reign forever;
your God, O Zion, through all generations.
(The 2nd reading is usually from Paul’s letters. Speaks to how the early church was built after Christ’s death and resurrection).
It’s important to know that we are at the end of our Church year – that helps us understand the 2nd readings of late. We have heard the theme of “Jesus as High Priest” for several weeks now, and there is a reason for that. We are approaching the feast called “The Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.” That feast celebrates Jesus as High Priest.
We’ve heard the difference in recent weeks’ readings of the levitical priests and Jesus as High Priest.
Levitical priests went to the temple on behalf of the people to ask God to forgive them their sins. That priest himself? He also had sins to bring to God.
Jesus as High Priest WAS the temple. He had NO sin. He FORGAVE our sin. That makes him High Priest. Once and for all he died for us. We do not re-kill Jesus at mass. No, we are transported to the Heavenly banquet during the consecration. We go to Calvary with Jesus – although we cannot see, hear or even feel that change – it is what we believe happens at mass.
And that is why we celebrate Jesus’s kingship. November 25th, this year’s the Feast of Christ the King, is our Church’s way to crown Christ as High Priest, King of Kings, Lord of Lords -the one who, like the widow, gave his life for us. His “entire livelihood.”
And then, beautifully, the following Sunday – we begin Advent. We enter the mystery of Jesus’ life on Earth from the very beginning – from the angel Gabriel’s call to Mary to become the Mother of God in astable.
(The Gospel is the highest point of the Liturgy of the Word. That’s why we stand.
We are about to hear from and be instructed by Christ Himself.)
Today’s gospel is linked to the 1st reading. It is the fulfillment of what Elijah did for that widow and her son. Now we have another widow in this story, and widows were in a unique – and low – position in society. They had no rights. They had no husband to take care of them. They had zero influence whatsoever. Their only hope was to have a married son who would take them in and care for them.
The widow in the gospel today gives her 2 coins to the treasury. Her ONLY 2 coins. The others who gave did give generously, but they gave of their surplus. This widow – like the one in the first reading – gave everything she had. She gave her proverbial ‘flour and oil’ to God – AND her complete and ultimate trust in His divine plan.
This is worthy of our time this week. To consider – what do we give to God? How much time do we give to God each day – 1 minute in the morning and 30 seconds in the evening? What if we gave our whole selves – our whole day to God? That is what this prayer allows us to do. This daily prayer helps us give our whole selves and our whole day to God. May we consider doing this daily as we head into the Thanksgiving holiday and Christmas season:
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day
for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart,
in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world,
for the salvation of souls, the reparation of sins, the reunion of all Christians,
and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father this month.