Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies

Homily for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
November 11th, 2012
Year B

In the year 258, during the reign of the Emperor Valerian, the Church came under horrific persecution. By order of the emperor, Pope St. Sixtus II, along with 6 deacons was beheaded leaving Lawrence the highest ranking Church official in Rome. The city prefect summoned Lawrence and demanded that he hand over the Church’s treasures. Lawrence responded by saying that the Church was indeed very rich and asked for a little time to gather its treasures. He then went all over the city seeking out the poor and the infirmed. On the third day, he gathered a great crowd of orphans, widows, and people who were lame, blind, and suffering from all sorts of diseases. He then invited the prefect to come and see the “the wondrous riches of God.” The prefect was furious and in a rage ordered that Lawrence to be put to death by being roasted on a gridiron over a slow fire.

Today’s Gospel speaks about that which is most valuable in God’s eyes. After having denounced the false piety of the Pharisees, Jesus turns his attention to the Temple treasury. He observes how the crowd pours money into the treasury – which would have been large trumpet shaped chests. Large sums would have clanked handsomely as they were thrown into these chests. These people all have contributed from their surplus wealth. After having cared for themselves, then they make their contribution to the Temple. Then this widow comes along. She is poor.  She gave, however, from her poverty. She contributed all she had. She did not give from her surplus but from her substance. Her self-emptying parallels the self-emptying of God who did not spare His only Son for the salvation of the world. She is an exemplar of the “poor” as described by St. Matthew who will inherit the Kingdom of God because he treasure was not found in earthly wealth but rather in God Himself. It is worth noting that she had 2 coins. She could have kept one for herself in order to take care of her needs but she didn’t. She gave everything to God.

Jesus reminds us today of the importance of almsgiving. Authentic almsgiving springs from a merciful heart. As such, we feel motivated to support those in need, to contribute to the upkeep and expansion of our parishes, and to support that which benefits the common good. True almsgiving leads to a detachment from worldly goods and disposes our hearts to be more attentive to the will of God. Therefore, almsgiving is an expression of our love and generosity toward God.

We can, however, identify another form of almsgiving – the giving of our time to God in such a way as to please Him. How often do we give only half-heartedly in life? When someone asks for our assistance with work around the house, at work, in class or with homework, or just to provide a listening ear, how many of us think to ourselves – “how long is this going to take?” How many of us miss opportunities to connect with people because we are too stuck on ourselves? How many of us don’t pray because we have other things to do? Are we seriously too busy for God? How many of us come to Mass late and leave early? How many of us are inattentive at Mass thus missing the great grace of being in God’s presence, of connecting with Him and forming a sacred bond with Him? How many of us fail to pray on a regular basis and miss an opportunity to slow our lives down and be filled with the joy of God’s grace and peacefulness? With minds and hearts distracted by so many things, by being too focused on ourselves, we can miss the opportunity to experience God’s love for us.

Like the widow of Zarephath and the poor widow in the Gospel, we are called to be Christians that are generous and genuine, meaning: honest and humble. Even though the offerings that we make, whether it is our time or our money, may seem insignificant, if it is offered with the proper intention and a firm disposition to love, then that offering is pleasing in the eyes of God. Our hearts must be directed toward God and we have to living accordingly. When we set our hearts on God, when He becomes the true treasure of our lives, when we begin to think less of ourselves and act selflessly, when we start giving our all in life and in faith, then do we find ourselves becoming truly the men and women God has created us to be, we find a remedy for sin and means of salvation. Here virtue find its beginning. God will surely reward our generosity. Whatever we give in time, energy or resources, the Lord will return to us a hundredfold. As St. Paul notes in his Second Letter to the Corinthians: “he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully…for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:6-7). Commenting on this epistle of St. Paul, Blessed John Henry Newman notes: “An honest, unaffected desire of doing right is the test of God’s true servants.”

As St. Lawrence gathered the treasures of the Church, let us ask our Lord in prayer, to remove our selfish tendencies and enlarge our hearts so that we may be filled with His love. Thus, with hearts filled with God’s love, we may have the courage to live generously and genuinely as the treasure of the Church.




Fr. Jon Reardon

Rev. Jonathan L. Reardon is a priest for the diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts.
He serves at Sacred Heart Parish in Pittsfield, MA.



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