‘But she has contributed her livelihood…’

Carla Oliver

Living the Word / By Carla Oliver

Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time/Nov. 7

1 Kings 17:10-16; Psalm 146:7,8-9,9-10; Hebrews 9:24-28; Mark 12:38-44

Oftentimes, I am called back to some of the best advice I’ve received from a priest: “When it comes to reading the Scriptures, read for transformation, not for information.” Implementing this thought into my prayer life has created ways for me to truly come to know Jesus as the Living Word and to see beyond written words. Like the example of the universal call to holiness waiting for us in this Sunday’s readings. Drawing from the most recent Sundays there is a continuation of gentleness waiting to usher us toward a unique encounter.

But first. . . .

In the first reading, the widow that Elijah meets in Zarephath isn’t told to disregard her will as she goes to bring him water and “a bit of bread.” She is still provided the opportunity to live the freedom of her own self, being reminded to do as she proposed and make something for her and her son to eat. But she is also being invited into a life-altering call. Brothers and sisters, this, too, is the invitation that we are to receive. To live a life where we have the ears to hear and eyes to see these tiny invitations to freely respond to the Lord.

Let us look for the invitations, no matter how big or small, that await us in the challenge of our current times. As we move into perhaps the busiest time of the year may we be made aware of our call to holiness through our livelihood.

With great boldness this woman does what she hears. She holds nothing back as she uses the last of her flour and oil to make a little cake for Elijah. What is there to lose? Everything, yet nothing at all. Sometimes we are too afraid to move, too afraid to respond to the Holy Spirit, because we fear nothing will happen. That we might make this genuine gift and receive nothing.

But what great hope is there when we lean in — when we surrender ourselves and submit to the promptings of the Holy Spirit?

There was a promise that the jug would not run dry. Are we faithfully living out this promise? In what ways can you and I allow more emptying of self so that we have room to receive? How do we need to be filled, so that we are not bearing the burden of being burnt out, but instead be courageous and renewed by the fidelity of the goodness of the Lord?

“SMALL PROMPTINGS”

The Gospel of Mark continues the theme of encountering more through our offerings. Immediately I am drawn by the imagery the apostle uses as he tells of Jesus sitting opposite the treasury and observing the crowd. The story of the poor widow who offered two small coins — “all she had, her whole livelihood” — reveals how, when we give from the purest of hearts, there is a return that is unimaginable.

These past months have been hard for all. There’s been inconsistent service, unpredictable situations, and change around every corner. As someone who thrives on routine and structure, at times I have been unsettled and forced to look my own discomfort in the face. This challenge has really provided opportunities for me to seek Jesus and His hope — to rely on these small promptings, to give what little I have to the Lord, and to watch his generosity unfold before me.

Let us look for the invitations, no matter how big or small, that await us in the challenge of our current times. As we move into perhaps the busiest time of the year may we be made aware of our call to holiness through our livelihood.

CARLA OLIVER is the administrative assistant in the diocesan Office of Vocations. A 2014 graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas, she has four years of teaching experience. She also served for two years as a missionary with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), which included leading Bible studies. She can be reached at coliver@cdop.org.

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