Sunday Reflection for November 17, 2019 by Eleanor Rabnett 

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – November-17, 2019

World Day of the Poor


First Reading:  Malachi 4.1-2

Second Reading:  2 Thessalonians 3.7-12

Gospel:  Luke 21.5-19

I really struggled as I prepared to share my thoughts and reflections of today’s scripture readings with you. They all seem to be speaking about how we prepare for the end of time.

And today we also celebrate World Day of the Poor. How does that tie in with preparing for the end of time? I’m thinking that it might be about how we live in the “NOW” – in the present moment; about how we share our riches – and that includes our very selves with all others around us in ways big and small.

With the readings from both Malachi and the Gospel we are being asked to choose – to let go of something so as to be able to receive something else. We hear about wars, famines, plagues and even worse about being separated from and being at odds with those we love. 

Paul speaks of the dignity of working and of the model that we need to be in our lives. “A tree is known by its fruits and people are known by their work.”[1]

Ron Rolheiser’s 2014 article titled “Our need to share our riches with the poor” speaks of our need as human beings to share what we have with those who have less. The Gospels challenge us to do that – not because there is a measuring line which dictates to us exactly when & what we have to start giving away, but because we become healthier and happier people when we do this.

Up high in one of the small windows at the front of the church is the Oblate Motto which translated from Latin to English says: “We are sent to evangelize the poor (to bring the good news to the poor): and it continues – the poor are evangelized”. I have always read this to mean that yes the poor that we are sharing with become evangelized – but more I see that we can also become more deeply evangelized ourselves.  In accepting that invitation, we benefit within ourselves in the most beautiful of ways because our hearts grow exponentially with our sharing.

Last week Fr. Jim, in his homily, said that “Our knowledge of God illumines a relationship. But there is always more to the relationship than we know. At the heart of the knowledge of faith is a humble not-knowing. It is this not-knowing that keeps us off-balance and fearful; but it is also this not-knowing that leads us to trust.”

This all invites us to focus on how we enter the realm of Jesus with Jesus as our model we meet those who are homeless, voiceless, unloved, scared, angry, wounded inside and out; whether they are on a street corner, in our classes, members of our families or sitting next to us in Church we love them and share with them whatever our riches are. “With daring humility and trust… We will let our lives be enriched by the poor and the marginalized as we work with them, for they can make us hear in new ways the Gospel we proclaim.”[2] This is how we live our relationships with God and with others.

It has been my experience that each time I give of myself in any number of ways to another – it is with love.  Whether I know that person or not, whether they seem to be rich or poor, whether they have wronged me or others unjustly or simply because they are wounded – I always ask God to have mercy on us – myself and them – that is I ask God to love us and the forgiveness is held within that love. Sometimes – sometimes I have to work very hard when asking God to grant mercy – not just for the other person, but equally and perhaps even more so for myself, for my own wounded responses or reactions to others.  And it can take time.

And God – God does respond – filling me with love and immense compassion and in that way I can begin to model myself on Jesus.

When God fills me I feel as if I am rich beyond any measure – like I have been handed the keys to the Kingdom.

Every day is new, and in the present – filled with endless invitations to enter into relationship – especially with those who have less than myself; I guess you could call this my way of preparing for the end of times – by how I choose to live in the moment.

By Eleanor Rabnett 

[1] William Barclay: The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians and Thessalonians p.255

[2] OMI Constitutions and Rules: Rule 8a

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