32nd Sunday Ordinary Time - Year B
Hear, O Israel!
In Judaism, one of the closest things to a creed is the "Shema". Its name comes from the Hebrew word for "Hear". The statement "Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone" means that Israel will serve only one God. It probably was not originally meant to say that there were no other Gods, but that the people would not follow another. Monotheism, or the belief that there is only one divinity, would come later. Orthodox Jews wear the Shema in boxes or phylacteries on their arms and foreheads. They are also placed in containers, called "Mezuzahs" at front doors of their homes.
Jesus places an emphasis on the second part of the Shema, "You shall love the Lord..." He teaches the value of a personal bond with his Father and the Holy Spirit. To this injunction Jesus adds a verse from Leviticus 19:18 "You shall love your neighbor..."
The Widow and the Collection
Jewish people have always been very generous to the poor. In the time of Jesus there were collection boxes outside the Temple. They were containers with large horns, like old-fashioned phonographs, and were called the "Trumpets." Proceeds from these boxes help provide food and other assistance. There was a custom of dropping in money in each as an offering to God.
One elderly woman places in a few shekels, a trifling amount. Jesus cites her example to the apostles. The widow's offering may be small, but it is all that she has. Christ contrasts it with the larger donations given by the rich. Their gifts are small compared to their wealth.
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