Homily: A Wealth of Knowledge

On Mission for The Church Alive   The Diocese of Pittsburgh is embarking on an extensive planning initiative involving every aspect of the diocese over the next two years. Bishop David Zubik announced the initiative, called On Mission for The Church Alive!’, over the last few months. And he is promulgating the program to all the parishes this month.

The aim of On Mission for The Church Alive! is to help our parishes and schools, our health care facilities and campus ministry programs and every faith community in our diocese become even more efficiently capable of dealing with present-day shortages of priests, declining numbers of parishioners in our parishes, and limited finances and resources. The goal of the reorganization is to encourage parishes to carry out the work of God in our diocese by working together more closely in districts, groups of 10 to 13 parishes in an area where possible in common communities of worship and service, while calling us all to take more seriously the work of spreading the Love of God through Jesus;   Due to changing demographics in parishes and a declining number of priests, On Mission for The Church Alive! will explore innovative models of ministry, including inter-parish collaboration, ministry teams serving more than one parish, and multiple parishes served by one pastor.

The first step in the multi-year initiative will be prayer, with many opportunities for different experiences of prayer offered throughout the Diocese. As a beginning step, all Catholics in the Diocese are asked to begin to use this Prayer for On Mission for the Church Alive! as a regular prayer at our liturgies and meetings. A copy of this prayer can be found in the clear pocket on the back of your pews. May our prayer over the next months help guide us on our journey into this new and innovative chapter of our work for the Lord.

Prayer for On Mission for The Church Alive!

Father of Mercy, as we journey “On Mission for The Church, endow us with your gifts of collaboration, courage and compassion. Help us to fulfill the mission of Jesus and His Churchh through vibrant parishes and effective ministries. Raise up selfless, energetic leaders to serve the Church in fidelity and with care. May we, the Church of Pittsburgh in Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Greene, Lawrence and Washington counties, be sustained and strengthened by your grace. Help us to learn Jesus, to love Jesus and to live Jesus. Hear this prayer and grant it through Jesus Christ our Lord with the help of our dear Blessed Mother, under the mantle of her love, Amen.

 

1 Kings 17: 10-16;  Hebrews 9: 24-28;  Mark 12: 38–44

The Scribes mentioned in today’s gospel were simply men who knew how to read and write—a distinct minority in those days. Illiterate people depended on them for help in preparing documents, such as contracts, and this gave them considerable power and prestige in the community. But it also tempted them to become proud and to consider themselves above the laws that govern ordinary people.

Jesus does not condemn them because they are more learned than most. They deserve condemnation only because their knowledge and pride allowed them to defraud vulnerable people, such as widows.   Note a contrast between the heartless Scribes, who prey on widows, and a poor widow who puts them to shame because of her generosity. Her “widow’s mite” is proportionately far more generous than larger and ostentatious gifts. Others give from their surplus, while she gives from her livelihood.

Life Implications

In our world, knowledge is so readily available that we often don’t realize what a precious There is real power in knowledge and this kind of power can be very corrupting. Abuse of knowledge occurs when it leads to hurtful comparisons with less favored persons and other forms of injustice. It is easy for the more learned to take advantage of the naive and vulnerable. “White collar crime” is rarely punished adequately. But God knows who is guilty.

On the other hand, knowledge can be used in very helpful and positive ways. Good teachers have a precious opportunity to deliver people from the very real bondage of ignorance. How gratifying it is to see a listless student begin suddenly to grasp the importance of learning and then to blossom into one who becomes hungry for knowledge. It leads to profound gratitude on the part of a student empowered in this way to explore a world of wonderful opportunities.

Wealth also can be abused through avarice and greed, but it can also provide a wonderful opportunity for service. The generosity of wealthy persons can liberate less-fortunate people from the bondage of misery and insecurity. Investing in the poor is a most wise and provident use of one’s resources.   The Scribes had some knowledge and wealth, but that was of little value to them in the end. The simple, poor widow turned out to have chosen the path to supreme knowledge and wealth beyond measure.

 

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