Reflections

Monday in the 34th Week of the Year, November 22, 2021

>>>> St Cecilia – Pray for Us!
GENEROSITY OF THE POOR
Introduction
To strengthen the faith of the persecuted Jews at the time of the Maccabees, the author of the Book of Daniel tells the edifying story of four young Jews who take the risk of remaining loyal to God’s law even at the pagan king’s court. They draw both God’s protection and their wisdom from this fidelity.
The widow goes beyond the law. In her generosity, she does not only give all she has, she has only what she has given. People who are poor often know well how to give because they know what it means to be poor and dependent; they know how to live in the hands of God.
 
Opening Prayer
Lord our God, generous Father,
simple people put us often to shame
by their total generosity
and straightforward loyalty.
Make us realise Lord,
that like your Son, the real poor of heart
often make us understand who you are:
a God who gives himself.
Grant us too, this kind
of generous love and loyalty
through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen!
 
1 Reading: Daniel 1:1-6, 8-20
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came and laid siege to Jerusalem. The Lord handed over to him Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and some of the vessels of the temple of God; he carried them off to the land of Shinar, and placed the vessels in the temple treasury of his god. The king told Ashpenaz, his chief chamberlain, to bring in some of the children of Israel of royal blood and of the nobility, young men without any defect, handsome, intelligent and wise, quick to learn, and prudent in judgment, such as could take their place in the king’s palace; they were to be taught the language and literature of the Chaldeans; after three years’ training they were to enter the king’s service. The king allotted them a daily portion of food and wine from the royal table. Among these were men of Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. But Daniel was resolved not to defile himself with the king’s food or wine; so he begged the chief chamberlain to spare him this defilement. Though God had given Daniel the favor and sympathy of the chief chamberlain, he nevertheless said to Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king; it is he who allotted your food and drink. If he sees that you look wretched by comparison with the other young men of your age, you will endanger my life with the king.” Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief chamberlain had put in charge of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, “Please test your servants for ten days. Give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then see how we look in comparison with the other young men who eat from the royal table, and treat your servants according to what you see.” He acceded to this request, and tested them for ten days; after ten days they looked healthier and better fed than any of the young men who ate from the royal table. So the steward continued to take away the food and wine they were to receive, and gave them vegetables. To these four young men God gave knowledge and proficiency in all literature and science, and to Daniel the understanding of all visions and dreams. At the end of the time the king had specified for their preparation, the chief chamberlain brought them before Nebuchadnezzar. When the king had spoken with all of them, none was found equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; and so they entered the king’s service. In any question of wisdom or prudence which the king put to them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his kingdom.
 
Responsorial Psalm: Daniel 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56
R. (52b) Glory and praise for ever!
 
“Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever;
And blessed is your holy and glorious name,
praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages.” R.
 
“Blessed are you in the temple of your holy glory,
praiseworthy and glorious above all forever.” R.
 
“Blessed are you on the throne of your Kingdom,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.” R.
 
“Blessed are you who look into the depths
from your throne upon the cherubim,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.” R.
 
“Blessed are you in the firmament of heaven,
praiseworthy and glorious forever.” R.
 
Alleluia: Matthew 24:42a, 44
Alleluia, alleluia.
Stay awake!
For you do not know when the Son of Man will come.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
 
Gospel: Luke 21:1-4
When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins. He said, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.”
 
Commentary
Two messages appear clearly in today’s readings. Yahweh will triumph in spite of all the odds, and what is done with true personal sacrifice is pleasing to God. When Nebuchadnezzar sacked Jerusalem, he left the city in ruins and deported a large part of the population. In the Book of Daniel, written some three hundred years after the events it describes, the young Darnel, ever faithful to his Hebrew faith, is protected and rewarded by God for his unwavering conviction. Refusing to eat the food offered by the king and living on a vegetarian diet, Daniel and his three companions emerge healthier and more robust than the other young men who ate from the king’s table.
Fidelity to religious principle is essential. Compromising on what we know is right is demoralizing from a human point of view. It is like the story of the man who, in his poverty, had to live on rice alone. A prosperous friend insisted that, if the man would learn to flatter the king, he would not have to live on rice. To which the poor man replied, “And if you would learn to like rice, you would not have to flatter the king.”
For some people the easiest way to extend charity is to write a check. It is painless and unquestionably does good. But for others, financial means are minimal, and a financial offering represents a true sacrifice. Such was the case with the poor widow in today’s Gospel. And Jesus goes out of his way to commend her charity, for what she offered represented true deprivation.
 
Intercessions
– Lord, we pray you for widows and orphans. Keep them from despair and make us attentive to their need of love and compassion, we pray:
– Lord, we pray you for all the poor who are insecure about the next day. May we bring them security and love, we pray:
– Lord, we pray for this community. Make us learn from the poor to be generous enough to share not only from our abundance but also when needed, from our own poverty, we pray:
 
Prayer over the Gifts
God, if you want someone
to suffer or die for sin
that we may live,
you take your own Son and he agrees loyally.
God, who give yourself,
accept these gifts, poor as they are,
because in them we place our own generosity
in the hope that you will make it grow
through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen!
 
Prayer after Communion
Lord our God, generous Father,
in your Son, Jesus Christ, you come to us
not the way a rich person would visit
an underdeveloped humanity,
but the way a poor one shares
with those who are also poor like him or her.
Accept our thanks for giving yourself
and revealing in Jesus
all the abundance of your love
with an infinite respect for our human poverty.
Accept our thanks through Christ, our Lord. Amen!
 
Blessing
Christ gave his own self to bring others reconciliation and happiness. Christians should learn from him to give themselves without counting the cost, with the blessing of Almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

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