Above: Fresco of the Widow’s Mite
Image Sources = Johannes Bockh and Thomas Mirtsch
The Sunday Closest to November 9
Twenty-Fourth Sunday After Pentecost
NOVEMBER 8, 2015
FIRST READING AND PSALM: OPTION #1
Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17 (New Revised Standard Version):
Naomi her mother-in-law said to her,
My daughter, I need to seek some security for you, so that it may be well with you. Now here is our kinsman Boaz, with whose young women you have been working. See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. Now wash and anoint yourself, and put on your best clothes and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. When he lies down, observe the place where he lies; then, go and uncover his feet and lie down; and he will tell you what to do.
She said to her,
All that you tell me I will do.
So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When they came together, the LORD made her conceive, and she bore a son. Then the women said to Naomi,
Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without next-of-kin; and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has borne him.
Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her bosom, and became his nurse. The women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying,
A son has been born to Naomi.
They named him Obed; he became the father of Jesse, the father of David.
Psalm 127 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):
1 Unless the LORD builds the house,
their labor is in vain who build it.
2 Unless the LORD watches over the city,
in vain the watchman keeps his vigil.
3 It is in vain that you rise so early and go to bed so late;
vain, too, to eat the bread to toil,
for he gives to his beloved sleep.
4 Children are a heritage from the LORD,
and the fruit of the womb is a gift.
5 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one’s youth.
6 Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them!
he shall not be put to shame
when he contends with his enemies in the gate.
FIRST READING AND PSALM: OPTION #2
1 Kings 17:7-16 (TANAKH: The Holy Scriptures):
After some time the wadi dried up, because there was no rain in the land. And the word of the LORD came to him:
Go at once to Zarephath of Sidon, and stay there; I have designated a widow there to feed you.
So he went at once to Zarephath. When he came to the entrance of the town, a widow was there gathering wood. He called out to her,
Please bring me a little water in your pitcher, and let me drink.
As she went to fetch it, he called out to her,
Please bring along a piece of bread for me.
As the LORD your God lives, I have nothing baked, nothing but a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am just gathering a couple of sticks, s that I can go home and prepare it for me and my son; we shall eat it and then we shall die.
Elijah said to her,
Don’t be afraid. Go and do as you have said; but first make me a small cake from what you have there, and bring it out to me; then make some for yourself and your son. For thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: The jar of flour shall not give out and the jug oil shall not fail until the day that the LORD sends rain upon the ground.
She went and did as Elijah had spoken, and she and he and her household had food for a long time. The jar of flour did not give out, nor did the jug of oil fail, just as the LORD had spoken through Elijah.
Psalm 146 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):
Praise the LORD, O my soul!
I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
2 Put not your trust in rulers, nor in any child of earth,
for there is not help in them.
3 When they breathe their last, they return to earth,
and in that day their thoughts perish.
4 Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help!
whose hope is in the LORD their God;
5 Who made heaven and earth, the seas, and all that is in them;
who keeps his promise for ever.
6 Who gives justice to those who are oppressed,
and food to those who hunger.
7 The LORD sets the prisoner free;
the LORD opens the eyes of the blind;
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down.
8 The LORD loves the righteous;
the LORD cares for the stranger;
he sustains the orphan and the widow,
but frustrates the way of the wicked!
9 The LORD shall reign for ever,
your God, O Zion, throughout all generations.
Hebrews 9:24-28 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):
For Christ has entered , not into a sanctuary made with hands, a copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the Holy Place yearly with blood not his own; for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all for the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly awaiting him.
Mark 12:38-44 (Revised English Bible):
There was a large crowd listening eagerly. As he taught them, he said,
Beware of the scribes, who love to walk up and down in long robes and be greeted respectfully in the street, and to have the chief seats in synagogues and places of honour at feasts. Those who eat up the property of widows, while for appearance’s sake they say long prayers, will receive a sentence all the more severe.
As he was sitting opposite the temple treasury, he watched the people dropping their money into the chest. Many rich people were putting in large amounts. Presently there came a poor widow who dropped in two tiny coins, together worth a penny. He called his disciples to him and said,
Truly I tell you: this poor widow has given more than all those giving to the treasury; for the others who have given had more than enough, but she, with less than enough, has given all that she had to live on.
O God, whose blessed Son came into the world that he might destroy the works of the devil and make us children of God and heirs of eternal life: Grant that, having this hope, we may purify ourselves as he is pure; that, when he comes again with power and great glory, we may be made like him in his eternal and glorious kingdom; where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Some Related Posts:
Proper 27, Year A:
Proper 27, Year B:
1 Kings 17:
Matthew 23 (Parallel to Mark 12):
Luke 20-21 (Parallel to Mark 12):
In Remembrance of Me:
Widows were among the most vulnerable members of society in Biblical times. Their societies, being patriarchal, placed most women in subservient and economically dependent statuses. A widow needed a man–perhaps her son or another relative–to care for her.
This Sunday we read two stories of God providing for widows, whether via a man or a direct miracle. And, in Mark 12, a widow pays an offering she cannot afford. I have covered that story in a post (a link to which I have provided) already. So, with a minimum of repetition, I propose that Jesus probably lamented her sacrifice. That should have been food money, not an offering the Temple authorities would not have missed. I hope that God provided for that faithful widow.
Consider the scene from Mark 12. It was Holy Week, so Jesus was a few days away from dying, something he had to do. The widow did something she thought she had to do because the religious authorities said so. Yet it was unnecessary, and she did need to eat. The major difference between the two sacrifices I choose to emphasize now is that our Lord’s sacrifice was necessary; the widow’s was not. Yet they shared a common factor: Temple authorities played large role in both of them.
May we read these stories, digest them, and inwardly digest them. Accordingly, may we help the vulnerable, as we are able, and refrain from imposing needless burdens upon others.
Published originally at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR