IT IS RIGHT TO REVEAL AND PUBLISH THE WORK OF GOD. SHE, OUT OF HER POVERTY, HAS GIVEN ALL SHE HAD. My brothers and friends, when we place side by side these sentences from today's readings, one from an ancient Hebrew author the other spoken by the Lord Jesus, we discover a truth that all too often is forgotten as we go about our daily occupations: there is a hidden meaning in events that appear to be but chance which however represent the unfolding of a plan conceived and directed by the all-knowing and merciful God.
In the Book of Tobit the angel Raphael reveals to the faithful believers that the success of their undertakings was the work of God. What had seemed to be fortunate chance was in fact directed by a high and benevolent wisdom devised in answer to prayer. There had been no indication sufficient to allow recognition of this Providential arrangement prior to these words of the angel. A revelation was necessary to open the mind of Tobit and his family to a presence active from the beginning but which went unrecognized even while it was organizing events to fill them with a meaning that transcended their seeming limits.
Similarly, but more subtly, in the Gospel Jesus reveals to his disciples the significance of an act that had remained hidden to them even as it unfolded before their eyes. A woman, burdened by poverty, furtively deposited a penny or two in the collection for the temple. Where others saw only an insignificant, even contemptible gesture if they noticed her at all, Jesus perceived a deed of moral beauty. He discerned the hidden intention of her heart. He then revealed the significance of her act in the eyes of God to those unable to recognize what he perceived to be actively present.
These inspired words are given us today to remind us that we are called to be witnesses to God's plan of salvation. To carry out our mission we must learn to recognize his active presence in our world, his Spirit working in events and in the hearts of those with whom we come into contact. His Spirit is offered to us to open our minds to perceive what is otherwise hidden from us in our dullness. He alone can make us conscious of the full dimensions of God's providential activity in the world and in the hearts of those we encounter.
Jesus' words today when recalled along with an even more important lesson he taught, remind us that a condition for being inclusive in our dealings with others is to learn the greatest of all truths. God is one and has an exclusive claim to our love. If we wish to avoid the ugliness of excluding others from our love, we must first learn that He is present in the world in His Son Jesus, through His Spirit. We can include all in our love only when we perceive that he alone is holy, he alone is Lord, he alone is sent to reveal and to carry out the Father's design for his children. He continues to fulfill this mission through his Church and nowhere more surely than at the altar. From its beginning the Church has been formed around the Eucharist. As we offer this sacrifice this evening and enter into communion with the glorified Christ in this sacrament, may he reveal to us the work of God and enable us rightly to publish and proclaim it. May we in return offer him in our poverty, all of our substance that we might live no longer by our poor means but by the riches of his Holy Spirit.
Abbot John Eudes Bamberger
© Abbey of the Genesee
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