Joy of the Gospel

November 11, 2018 – Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.

Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, “Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.” (Mark 12:41-44)

I have shared this story from my trip to Haiti in the past, but to have seen Scripture unfold right before my very eyes was powerful and I remember it vividly each time I hear this Gospel story:

Notes from my 2011 trip to Haiti:

Mass was generally only celebrated every 3-4 weeks at each location, since just two priests must cover both churches and all nine of the chapels. When there was to be a Mass celebrated at a given chapel, a bell was rung to alert the people in the area. The bell was rung two hours prior to the service so that the people living in the area could prepare themselves and make the trip to their chapel. A number of people needed to travel the mountain paths 1-1/2 to 2 hours on foot, so they needed the advance notice. When they arrived they were dressed in the very best clothes they owned – clothes they wore only for church services. Shoes were shined, although dusty from the walk. Little girls were in dresses and had bows in their hair. They packed the chapel. And they praised God with their enthusiastic responses to prayer. They raised their voices in song – singing loudly and with real joy.

It was powerful to see Scripture come to life: “A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents…These very poor people, from this earthquake ravaged third world country, reached into their pockets or into tattered change purses and pulled out a coin or two to drop in the collection basket – gladly and with smiles on their faces. When the basket arrived at my seat near the back of the Church, there was about $4.00 total.

When we hear the phrase, “the joy of the Gospel”…this is what it means.

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