Thirty -second sunday in Ordinary Time
Do Not Be Afraid! Do Not Fear! Fear Not!
God told Elijah to go to Zarephath that He had commanded a widow to feed him. As Elijah enters the city, he sees a widow and tells her to give him a cupful of water to drink. As she leaves to bring the water, he tells her to get him a crust of bread. The widow then tells Elijah that she has nothing baked and that she has only a handful of flour and oil in her jar to prepare something for herself and her son, and after they have eaten it, they would die. Then the prophet Elijah says to her, “Do not be afraid.” (c.f. 1 Kgs 17:13.
It is said that “Do not be afraid, is mentioned 365 times in the Bible. There are 365 days in a year. So, that means that God says to us every day, “Do not be afraid.” Fear hinders us from fulfilling God’s will for ourselves and others. It could stop us from contributing our quotas to the building up of the body of Christ. It could hinder us from persevering in the call of God upon our lives. It could be the fear of tomorrow, fear of whether others will accept us or not; the fear could result from a feeling of insecurity, and so on. Fear is deadly!
But the most effective remedy for fear is faith in God, our refuge, and our strength. When we have faith and believe in God’s plan for our lives, that He would give us the grace to persevere and fulfill whatever He asks us, we will have peace, joy, and strength. And He will use us to accomplish more incredible things for His Kingdom. The widow of Zarephath believed God’s word through the prophet Elijah, and God rewarded her obedience of faith. “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” (1 Kgs 17:15-16).
In the Gospel, we hear that Jesus sat opposite the treasury, observing how people contributed. A poor widow contributed two small coins, her whole livelihood, while many rich people contributed large sums from their surplus wealth. Jesus told His disciples that the poor widow contributed more than the rich people who donated large sums.
She believed in her heart that God was asking her to do more for His work. She did not allow fear to stop her from contributing her whole livelihood to God’s work. As someone once said, ‘the widow felt the pinch of her contribution.’ She believed in her heart that God was asking her to make a contribution that costs her something, her whole livelihood. She practiced the obedience of faith.
The rich folks, on the other hand, did not feel the pinch of their contribution. If they had listened to their hearts, they might have heard God calling them to contribute more to His work. Perhaps, they allowed the fear of one thing or the other, or insecurity, to hinder them from allowing God to use them mightily for His work.
We have the examples of the widows in today’s readings, as well as the saints and our Blessed Mother and St. Joseph. They did not allow fear to hinder them from allowing God to use them for the advancement and reign of His kingdom. There is no need to be afraid of anything whatsoever. Jesus Christ, our High Priest, gives us the grace to conquer our fears to contribute whatever He calls us to contribute for the building up of His body, the Church, for the advancement of His Kingdom, “Your Kingdom come; Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”
How is God asking each of us to contribute to the building up of the body of Christ? What is He asking each of us to contribute: our time, talent, and treasure (TTT)? Do we allow the fear of one thing or the other, or the feeling of insecurity, to hinder us from practicing the obedience of faith?