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Bishop's Homily for the Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Many in our communities have no notion of faith, no light to guide them.

By Bishop Larry Silva
November 07, 2021

[St. Anthony of Padua Church, Kailua]

Ah, the perfect opportunity to talk about money!  Specifically giving money to the church!  This Gospel about the widow’s stewardship is the perfect way to introduce this important topic.  So I hate to disappoint you, but I want to talk about something else today, because I am already very grateful to you for all you do to support not only your parish but your diocesan church.

Both widows we hear about in today’s Scripture readings were women who had great hope and great love.  They had so little, but they willingly shared it, and both in their own ways were richly rewarded.  It is clear, however, that they made a great sacrifice and a leap of faith by sharing the little they had with someone else.  Today I would like to reflect a bit on one of the greatest treasures we have, the treasure of faith.  We who are gathered here obviously know the value of this treasure, at least to some degree, because we could still be in bed, or at the golf course, the beach, or the mall.  We have come here to celebrate our faith and to draw close to the Lord.

But how many people in our community have no notion of faith, no light to guide them in the decisions of life, and no reason to give of themselves in sacrifice?  As a result of this, we see much discord and chaos in our society, so many strange ideas that threaten life, community, and the family.  If we try to analyze the problems we experience in our culture, it can be overwhelming.  Where do we begin to share the Good and liberating news of Jesus with others?  What difference can any of us make with problems and challenges so overwhelming?  Here is where these wonderful widows can teach us the lesson the Lord wants us to learn.

Whatever we have, no matter how little we think it may be, we should be willing to give.  It may seem futile to us, but if the little we have is offered in sacrifice and thanksgiving to the Lord, he will multiply its effects beyond our imagining.

Is someone grieving because of the loss of a loved one; or extremely anxious over a debilitating illness in self or in a loved one?  We do not have the ability to make everything better, to completely take away the pain and anxiety.  But if we do something little and give it generously, it can make a huge difference.  We pray for the person.  We offer a cooked meal.  We offer to baby sit.  We mow the person’s lawn.  Such little things, but these can be an effective way to witness to the love that Christ gives us when he himself laid down his life for us.

To stop all abortions, to eliminate suicides, to reconcile political enemies, to bring peace to countries rattling sabers at each other are all tasks so huge that we think there is nothing we can do about them.  Yet if we do something, offering just a little to bring light or hope to a situation, God can multiply its effects.

We come to worship God and to grow in our love for the Lord Jesus.  Most of our neighbors, however, do not know the Lord, except perhaps as a person from the history books.  They go through life doing the best they can, but without the help of the Lord’s guidance, without awareness of his presence with them, and sometimes listening to voices that are contrary to the Lord’s voice, which can only lead them to misery and disappointment.  When we think of the number of people who could be converted to the Lord, it is overwhelming, and so perhaps we just hold on to the little flour or oil we have left in our own jars.  But the Lord challenges us to step out in faith and to speak to our family members, our work or school colleagues, and our neighbors about Jesus and his saving love.  A little kind word of blessing; a promise of a prayer at a difficult time; a word of hope when there is despair – all these things seem so little, but if we offer them, they can become the seeds that are planted in a person’s heart that, in the Lord’s own time, can bear much good fruit.

Yes, of course we would love to see a great harvest of peace, of harmony, and of joy in our world.  But in the midst of a drought, we may have very little to offer.  If we offer it, however, as these beautiful widows did, no matter how small it may seem, we trust that the Lord will make it last and will give it growth and make it more than sufficient to accomplish his purposes.