“Indeed for your faithful, Lord, life is changed not ended.”
That’s the way we Catholics see the world. As we have just celebrated the Feast of All Souls, we know through faith that death is not the last word in and over our lives. Our sinfulness, famines, droughts, war, terror, hurricanes like Sandy, injustice and poverty are not the last words and lasting realities that determine the dignity and the destiny of every human person and the whole human race.
We Christians can summon great supernatural faith and hope in the midst of every form of darkness. We have been created, we are being redeemed and we are being sanctified by the grace of the Most High God, who is Eternal. As the Eternal Triune God, He exists from all eternity, always preceding and outlasting in His existence the darkness of our lives.
He walks with us through the darkness of our lives. His saving embrace of our lives carries us through every danger, toil and snare triumphantly and forevermore. God speaks the last word about each and every one of us He has made. He makes definitive claims on the everlasting fate of those of us who belong to Him and believe in His Holy Word with all our hearts, minds, souls and strength, as we learned in last Sunday’s readings.
Affirmation of Faith
In today’s first reading from the First Book of Kings, we are drawn into a magnificent encounter between Elijah and the widow of Zarephath who faced the darkness of a drought that threatened to declare the last words of hunger and death over her and her son. But the Word of God speaking through the prophet Elijah affirms her faith in the Lord God Almighty “as he lives” and lives eternally. Elijah assures her that not only will the Lord grant her request of some nourishment before death, but He will also bless her and her son with “meal” and “oil” until the day that the Lord “sends rain on the earth.” This promise was fulfilled.
Such darkness cannot outlast an Eternal God who acts in union with believers with everlasting faith.
The Responsorial Psalm taken from Psalm 146 celebrates this eternal character of God. He performs mighty deeds in time and space that lead us to see His Power, His Grace and His Love beyond time and space, that is, in every age and for all eternity. These mighty deeds bring His covenant to full view for us who strive to believe in Him even more relentlessly.
As God acts in the power of His eternal character, His eternal vision and love manifests itself as He sees beyond our human weakness. This divine perspective approaches our dependence on God as an opportunity to celebrate His faithfulness to us. We are called, therefore, to follow His example and serve the less fortunate in a spirit of joy having the last divine word over the sadness that injustice causes.
It is the power of this vision of everlasting faith in this Loving and Eternal God that moves Jesus to rejoice and celebrate the two-coined tithe of the poor widow in today’s passage from the Gospel of St. Mark. He understands that despite all the conflicting financial and political messages such an action may have sent, it expressed sincere, authentic and total faith and dependence on God.
The poor widow is the role model of the early Christians who were willing to sacrifice certain family connections and financial support to follow the “Way” of Jesus. That “Way” was the Way of the Incarnate Eternal and Most Loving God in whom our faith must be placed. This faith will overshadow and outlast the insincere and empty acts of faith and charity of the Jewish scribes and leaders Jesus so anxiously condemns.
After all, Jesus, through His death and resurrection, becomes clearly revealed to us as the Real Eternal High Priest whose cross is the judgment crossroads for our lives at the end of all things. This cross in our lives has the power to destroy our death and save us. This salvation is pregnantly possible if we place tremendous faith in Him by our words and deeds.
In this “Year of Faith,” inaugurated by Pope Benedict XVI and championed in our diocese by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, may our faith in this Eternal High Priest be effective and everlasting. Yes, Lord Jesus Christ, Our Eternal High Priest, indeed for your faithful, life is changed, not ended!
Readings for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 Kings 17: 10-16
Psalm 146: 7, 8-9, 9-10
Mark 12: 38-44 or 12: 41-44