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Irish Dominican Church, Tralee, Co Kerry

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St Catherine of Siena

Reflections on the 32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time (11th November 2018)

It’s Quality, Not Quantity

We are presented this Sunday with two very different sorts of people. The first person is incredibly wealthy, wears clothes from the best and most expensive brands. He is a person of great status, and donates an incredible amount of money to good causes. He even makes a point of saying he is spiritual and spends a lot of time in prayer and meditation. However, he is pompous, and is a hypocrite. By contrast, the other person is an elderly widow who has nothing. Unlike the other person- she is unknown. She is a widow who gives the penny she has away. The point is clear to us; she has given all of herself. Hers is the greater love. That rich, pompous hypocrite might have given more money away, we say, but we love the elderly widow’s selflessness more and feel vindicated that God is on her side, especially since she is clearly the underdog in this account. Very few people reading this account would choose him over her when reading it. And yet, in the world in which we live, a lot of people would chose the first person over the second. If both the rich man and the widow were to throw a party, whose party would you rather go to? The first person can hire the best entertainment. Have the most interesting guests. Have the best food. Fireworks. A party hosted by such a person would, in all likelihood, be an evening you’d not want to forget.

The widow by contrast, can offer you just one thing; her friendship.

So while most people might very well admire that widow- it is far from certain that most people would choose to follow her example. We are influenced by what we feel about things not merely by how we think of something in our heads. As far as making us feel good is concerned, that first rich man, whatever his flaws are- will usually outcompete that widow. He has more wealth. He has more connections. He is the one that most people will want to curry favour with and get on their good side. We live in a world run by people like him, not by widows like her after all. But that widow- she stands apart from the crowd. She is genuine. The world might be run by people like that rich man, but she does not live in it according to his rules. She is in the world, but not of the world. God favours people like her, the Gospel tells us. People who are authentic. Who have Integrity. Who seek the Truth in sincerity of heart. Who stand by their convictions. There is a depth to her relationship with God. It is Quality of relationship over quantity. In all our action and in all our prayers- it is quality, over quantity, that God looks for. In the account from the gospel, that widow represents those who truly follow Christ. She is authentic before God. We may live in a world run by that pompous rich man, but let us not forget that there is another party to which we are invited. It is the party of the wedding Feast of the Lamb. It is God’s eternal Kingdom. And we are invited.

Written by Fr Daragh