32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
November 07, 2021
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.








Almighty and merciful God,
graciously keep from us all adversity,
so that, unhindered in mind and body alike,
we may pursue in freedom of heart
the things that are yours.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.

First Reading1 Kgs 17:10-16

In those days, Elijah the prophet went to Zarephath.
As he arrived at the entrance of the city,
a widow was gathering sticks there; he called out to her,
"Please bring me a small cupful of water to drink."
She left to get it, and he called out after her,
"Please bring along a bit of bread."
She answered, "As the LORD, your God, lives,
I have nothing baked; there is only a handful of flour in my jar
and a little oil in my jug.
Just now I was collecting a couple of sticks,
to go in and prepare something for myself and my son;
when we have eaten it, we shall die."
Elijah said to her, "Do not be afraid.
Go and do as you propose.
But first make me a little cake and bring it to me.
Then you can prepare something for yourself and your son.
For the LORD, the God of Israel, says,
'The jar of flour shall not go empty,
nor the jug of oil run dry,
until the day when the LORD sends rain upon the earth.'"
She left and did as Elijah had said.
She was able to eat for a year, and he and her son as well;
the jar of flour did not go empty,
nor the jug of oil run dry,
as the LORD had foretold through Elijah.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 146:7,8-9,9-10


R/. Praise the Lord, my soul!

The LORD keeps faith forever,
secures justice for the oppressed,
gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets captives free.

The LORD gives sight to the blind.
The LORD raises up those who were bowed down;
the LORD loves the just.
The LORD protects strangers.

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. Alleluia.

Second Reading Heb 9:24-48

Christ did not enter into a sanctuary made by hands,
a copy of the true one, but heaven itself,
that he might now appear before God on our behalf.
Not that he might offer himself repeatedly,
as the high priest enters each year into the sanctuary
with blood that is not his own;
if that were so, he would have had to suffer repeatedly
from the foundation of the world.
But now once for all he has appeared at the end of the ages
to take away sin by his sacrifice.
Just as it is appointed that human beings die once,
and after this the judgment, so also Christ,
offered once to take away the sins of many,
will appear a second time, not to take away sin
but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.

Alleluia Mt 5:3


Gospel Mk 12:41-44

Jesus sat down opposite the treasury
and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury.
Many rich people put in large sums.
A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.
Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them,
"Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more
than all the other contributors to the treasury.
For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth,
but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had,
her whole livelihood."

Reflection Questions

      1.         How have you experienced God’s unfailing abundance?

      2.        Do you eagerly await the Lord’s return?

      3.        What challenges do you face when it comes to generosity?

Catena Nova

With God, nothing is purposeless, or meaningless, or without a good reason. Thus under the old law they consecrated one tenth of their possessions, while those who have received their freedom set aside everything they have for the Lord’s use. They cheerfully and freely give more than the bare minimum because they have more than the bare minimum of hope. The poor widow put all that she possessed into the Temple treasury. For we must make an offering to God, and show ourselves in every way grateful to him who made us – in purity of thought, in sincerity of faith, in fervent hope and burning love – as we offer the first fruits of the things he has created and that are his. This offering the Church makes alone to her creator, making it with gratitude from his creation. For we are offering him the things that are his, preaching our fellowship and union and proclaiming the resurrection of body and soul. Just as bread that comes from the earth, once the words of consecration have been said, is no longer ordinary bread but becomes the Eucharist, made of two things, earthly and heavenly, so our bodies, receiving it, are no longer corruptible but have the hope of resurrection within them (St. Irenaeus of Lyons).

The poor widow had gone out to look for two blocks of wood to bake some bread,: it is at this time that Elijah meets her. This woman is the symbol of the Church because a cross is made of two pieces of wood, the woman, who was destined to die, searches for something by which to live eternally. There is a hidden mystery in this … Elijah tells her: “Go, feed me first with your poverty and you will not run out of your goods.” What a blessed poverty! If the widow received here on earth such retribution, what a reward may she hope to receive in the life to come! I insist on this point – let us not expect to harvest the fruit of our sowing now, at the time we sow. Here on earth, we sow with difficulty what will be the harvest of our good works but only later on, will we gather the fruits of this with joy, according to what is said: “Those who go forth weeping, carrying sacks of seed, will return with cries of joy, carrying their bundled sheaves” (Ps 125:6). Actually Elijah’s act towards this woman was not her reward, but only a symbol of it. For if this widow would have been rewarded here on earth for having fed the man of God, what a miserable sowing, what a poor crop! She received just a temporal good – a jar of flour that did not empty and a jug of oil that did not run dry, until the day the Lord watered the earth with His rain. This sign that was given to her by God, for a few days was, therefore, the symbol of the future life where our reward could not be lessened. Our flour will be God himself! As the flour of this woman did not run out in these days, we will not be deprived of God for all the rest of eternity … Sow with faith and your harvest will surely come; it will come later on but when it will come, you will reap it endlessly (St. Augustine of Hippo).

In the matter of piety, poverty serves us better than wealth and work better than idleness, especially since wealth becomes an obstacle even for those who do not devote themselves to it. Yet, when we must put aside our wrath, quench our envy, soften our anger, offer our prayers and show a disposition which is reasonable, mild, kindly and loving, how could poverty stand in our way? For we accomplish these things not by spending money but by making the correct choice. Almsgiving, above all else, requires money but even this,shines, with a brighter lustre, when the alms are given from our poverty. The widow who paid in the two mites, was poorer than any human but she outdid them all (St. John Chrysostom).

We have been entrusted with the administration and use of temporal wealth for the common good, not with the everlasting ownership of private property. If you accept the fact that ownership on earth is only for a time, you can earn eternal possessions in heaven....Call to mind the widow who forgot herself in her concern for the poor, and, thinking only of the life to come, gave away all her means of subsistence. Others, [Jesus] says, have given of their superfluous wealth; but she, possessed of only two small coins and more needy perhaps than many of the poor—though in spiritual riches she surpassed all the wealthy—she thought only of the world to come, and had such a longing for heavenly treasure that she gave away, all at once, whatever she had that was derived from the earth and destined to return there. Let us then invest with the Lord what he has given us, for we have nothing that does not come from him: we are dependent upon him for our very existence....So let us give back to the Lord the gifts he has given us; let us give to him who receives in the person of every poor man or woman. Let us give gladly, I say, and great joy will be ours when we receive his promised reward (St. Paulinus of Nola).

What great profit you gain from God when you are generous! You give a coin and receive a kingdom; you give bread from wheat and receive the Bread of Life; you give a transitory good and receive an everlasting one. You will receive it back, a hundred times more than you offered (St. Thomas of Villanova).

Never measure your generosity by what you give, but rather by what you have left (Ven. Fulton J. Sheen).

Today Jesus also tells us that the benchmark is not quantity but fullness. There is a difference between quantity and fullness. You can have a lot of money and still be empty. There is no fullness in your heart. This week, think about the difference there is between quantity and fullness. It is not a matter of the wallet, but of the heart. There is a difference between the wallet and the heart.... There are diseases of the heart, which reduce the heart to the wallet.... This is not good! To love God “with all your heart” means to trust in him, in his providence, and to serve him in the poorest brothers and sisters without expecting anything in return....Let us ask the Lord to admit us to the school of this poor widow, whom Jesus places in the cathedra and presents as a teacher of the living Gospel even to the astonishment of the disciples (Pope Francis).


Widows’ Peak

            My Italian grandmother’s name was Bridget. (Don’t ask me why!)  She was 5 feet tall, so we called her “Small Grandma” to distinguish her from my other grandmother, who wore a size 22½ dress, whom we naturally called “Big Grandma.” Like her Swedish namesake, “Small Grandma” was the mother of a large family.  After she lost her beloved husband in her mid-50s, like St. Bridget she spent almost 40 years of widowhood devoted to prayer.  Though she wanted to become a nun, like St. Bridget had when her husband died, in those days they said she was too old.

            One morning after a visit home, I stopped as usual at Grandma’s house to say good-bye.  And, as usual, she said to me, “There’s just one thing I need - prayers.”  I gave my usual nod, thinking to myself, “I need your prayers far more than you need mine, and they’d probably be heard a lot sooner.”  (People are always asking priests to pray for them, which is fine, except that priests rely just as much-- more, really--on others’ prayers. In fact, I sometimes fear everyone’s so anxious to have someone else pray for them, that no one ends up praying for anybody!)

            Be that as it may, this was one time I did as Grandma asked, for it just happened to be July 23rd --- the feast of St. Bridget. Her name day gave me a special reason to offer those prayers she requested so often.  I said them during the Mass I offered later in honor of that other holy widow, the one from Sweden, who died in 1373.

            And as I was preparing for Mass, I learned there was more than coincidence to these two widows sharing a name. For St. Bridget, like my grandmother after her, had a mission -- a mission of prayer and penance for the good of the church, a way to sanctify their difficult lives after mourning their husbands and facing the burdens of loneliness and financial hardship. In other words, these women were both counted among the ranks of those holy widows whom the Scriptures extol, the ones Paul mentions in his first letter to Timothy, saying: “Honor widows who are truly widows. . . The real widow. . .has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day” (1 Tm. 5: 3,5).

            You see, there’s a long tradition among God’s people of honoring the widow – though I don’t want to exclude the widower either, for certainly men who’ve lost their wives can also be models of devotion to God and church in similar ways.  These are people like the widow of Zarephath who assisted the prophet Elijah, and the widow Jesus praised when she came and put in two small coins worth a few cents into the temple treasury (cf. G).

            Indeed, widows in the ancient church had a special standing in the Christian community – the “order of widows,” as it was called.  Valerie Karras remarks how, in the Eastern church, this order gave

status and respect to women who were dependent on the charity of the Church. In addition to having no visible means of support from children or other family, women enrolled as widows had to be at least 60 years old, married only once, and be well-known as pious, helpful and generous…. the widows were considered among the church officials, although not as an ordained ministry….The nature of the widows’ ministry [was] primarily a spiritual one…. This is remarkable, for it shows that older women were valued in the early Church not for their ability to make sweets or do other traditionally female domestic tasks on behalf of the parish, but rather for their spiritual ministry in praying for the community.As the order of widows developed through the second and third centuries, they acquired specific pastoral duties, especially toward the sick, and sometimes even liturgical functions….. [In some places], during the eucharistic offering, the widows [were] instructed to stand to the left and behind the presbyters, opposite the deacons, who [were] to assume a similar position to the right.

            As for other sectors of the church, she goes on to note how, “This primary function of prayer [of widows]…is attested to even in the West”, for example in the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus, which dates to about 215 AD.  But a fifth-century document of Syrian origin called the Testamentum Domini gives widows such a prominent roles that they

received communion after the deacons and before the subdeacons. Even the structure of their consecration in this document is like that of the higher orders, and especially that of the deacon, rather than that of the subdeacon or reader. Perhaps the consecration appears like an ordination because the liturgical functions of the widows in the Testamentum are virtually identical to those delineated in other early church documents as the duties of another women's ministry, one which, curiously, is scarcely mentioned in the Testamentum Domini and is clearly subordinate there to the order of widows. I am speaking here of the ordained order of deaconesses (cf. “Women in the Eastern Church: Past, Present, and Future,” http://www.academia.edu/2247438/_Women_in_the_Eastern_Church_Past_Present_and_Future_)

            Unfortunately, we have no equivalent to this order today nor, I might add, an understanding of the single life as a vocation alongside marriage and the priesthood or religious life.  I think the time has come for a more encompassing recognition of “singlehood” as a bona fide calling that gives shape and contour to one’s baptismal consecration.[1]  For instance, the website of the Archdiocese of Melbourne, Australia has one of the best descriptors of such a vocation I was able to find after a little Google search:

At our Baptism we were all accepted as children of God and called to follow Jesus Christ as his disciples and apostles. Disciple comes from a Latin word and means someone who is learning. We learn about Jesus by following him and seeking to become more like him. Apostle comes from a Greek word meaning one who is sent out. Having learnt about Jesus we are called to go forth and tell others about Him (to evangelise).

As lay people (not consecrated or ordained) we live out our faith and give witness to Jesus in the midst of our work and daily lives with our friends and those we work with, at school and in our social lives. We do this not just by what we say, but perhaps even more by the way we act, especially towards others

If we are people of truth, love and goodness, cheerfully serving others and meeting our responsibilities without boasting or complaining, then we are witnessing to the faith that we profess.

The vocation to the Single Life may be lived out either from choice or from circumstance. Some people choose to remain single because they believe this is how they can best serve God and his people. They do not feel called to join a consecrated community or the priesthood. They may be a lay missionary - teacher or doctor - who can more easily respond to need, wherever it is perceived, if they are not tied by an intimate relationship or family responsibilities. But equally they may be a carpenter, office worker, scientist, dentist, train driver, who has a fulfilling personal relationship with Jesus which they feel able to live out more fully if they are not tied by other relationships.

Other people are single because of the situation they find themselves in. This may be a temporary or permanent situation. For example, a young person who is still discerning his or her vocation - whether to marriage or the religious life - is still called to live their life for God while they are single. A person who feels called to marriage but has not yet found their future spouse can be living the single vocation at this time.  A person who has been widowed or divorced and thus is no longer living the vocation to marriage may now live out the vocation to single life. A person who is same sex attracted is called to live their life as a single person.

All of these people can have rich, fruitful and fulfilling lives, witnessing to their faith and serving others as followers of Jesus. Many of them would tell you that they are free to do this because they are single, even when it was not their first choice to live alone. A married person must always consider their spouse and children. A priest must consider his parishioners. A consecrated sister or brother must consider their community. But a single person can give all their allegiance to God and his will for their life (https://www.cam.org.au/vocations/Single-Life).

            So yes, the widow, the widower, and the single person, all have a vocation in the church with a specific character and contour. And the church has not only a duty to give them support and encouragement, but can expect in return their prayer and service. And even if the “order of widows” has passed into history, every parish can point to people who’ve lost their spouse or who, for whatever reason, remain unmarried, and who are models of Christian life to us all, who contribute all they have, in so many different ways (G). And their children, family, friends, and fellow parishioners should honor them, for they model an example of faith, acceptance of God’s will, and perseverance in what is, at times, a difficult life.  But it’s their life, their calling, and their mission: To be among those poor in spirit Jesus calls blessed for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Gospel Acclamation).  Where he lives and reigns, with the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.



Intercessions (Peter Scagnelli)

Let us pray for the needs of all to God our provider, through Jesus who intercedes in the presence of God on our behalf.

That the church may generously share its material and spiritual resources, trusting in the Lord God to provide for all its needs.

That the church’s leaders may renounce every desire for prestige and power, serving God’s people in humility after the example of the Master.

That nations may cooperate in the effective distribution of earth’s produce, seeking to provide especially for those most in need.

That those who suffer from drought and famine may find relief, receiving rain from the heavens and food from the earth.

That those burdened by sin and guilt may be delivered to know true peace, seeing in Jesus the priest who offered to bear the sins of all.

That our community may imitate the sacrificial love of Jesus, giving not only out of our abundance but out of our life’s very sustenance.

That we may beware of making an empty show of our religious practice, striving instead to let our faith transform us into true servants of the gospel.

That we may be transformed by the bounty we receive in this eucharist, learning to feed the hungry as the Lord has graciously fed us.

That those who have died may experience a merciful judgment, receiving the salvation won for them by Christ’s sacrifice.

God, our provider, you are the orphan’s hope and the widow’s bread. Strengthen our faith, that with simplicity of heart we may come to trust in you alone and hold back nothing in serving you. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen. (ICEL;1998)

Interlude (Felix Mendelssohn: Elijah Oratorio, Op. 29 and 70)


He, watching over Israel, slumbers not nor sleeps;
Shouldst thou walking in grief languish;
He will quicken thee.

Lord’s Prayer

Let us seem our daily bread from God as Jesus taught....

Spiritual Communion

We come before you today, Lord, in poverty of spirit without the nourishment of the Bread from heaven and the Cup of salvation.  Yet, you remain our high priest as you present yourself continually before God on our behalf.  Enrich us now with the wealth of your grace and count us among those whom your sacrifice has made children of God.  Restore us soon to your sanctuary where we can join with our brothers and sisters in making our own offering united to yours at the altar.


Closing Hymn (John Michael Talbot)


The Lord protects the simple hearts
I was helpless so He saved me
The Lord protects the simple hearts
How gracious is the Lord

They surrounded me, the snares of death
With the anguish of the tomb
They caught me, sorrow and distress
I called on the name of the Lord

The Lord protects the simple hearts
I was helpless so He saved me
The Lord protects the simple hearts
How gracious is the Lord

Turn back my soul now to your rest
For the Lord has been good
He has kept my soul from death
And my eyes from sorrow's tears

The Lord protects the simple hearts
I was helpless so He saved me
The Lord protects the simple hearts
How gracious is the Lord

I love the Lord
For He has heard my cry
The Lord protects the simple hearts
How gracious is the Lord
How gracious is the Lord