Reflection for Sunday – November 7, 2021

Readings: 1 Kings 17:10-16; Hebrews 9: 24-28; Mark 12: 38-44
Preacher: Nancy DeRycke

No one is a justa!

We’ve probably heard the story of the kiddo who, because of the prayer, thought God’s name was:  “Our father who art in heaven, HAROLD be thy name!?”
There are many kinds of names, but the one name God doesn’t like is “justa.” (That one’s justa kid; he’s justa old man; she’s justa a mother; I’m justa….)
So often we define ourselves or others by what we DON’T have:  I/they don’t have much time… the energy or health I used to have…the smarts or skill or confidence…any patience…

Our readings present two women who “don’t have”:

  • A husband (i.e., widows had no security, protection, social standing),
  • Money (little to give financially or of anything that matters),
  • Status (i.e., an outcast to deplore or criticize)

Even Jesus was described as:

  • A lowly carpenter (what good can come out of Nazareth?)
  • Itinerant preacher (nowhere to lay his head).

But what makes all the difference with both the widows and Jesus is they gave all they had and held nothing back.

God defines everyone not as a “justa,” not for what we don’t have—but for what we do have and what we do with it.  Last week’s gospel encouraged all to love God and neighbor with everything we’ve got—our whole selves.  This week, encourages us further in that.

Elijah says to the poor widow: “Don’t be afraid”  (a phrase used almost 100 times in scripture! Some say 365 times for each day of the year!?). God’s Spirit will walk with us through whatever comes as long as we’re trying to do the right thing for the right reason. Don’t be afraid to step out of our comfort zone and take the chance to make a difference even if we’re not sure.

Our second reading from Hebrews reminds us that Christ will come to those who wait—have faith and patience. If we’re trying to give life all we’ve got, no matter how long it takes or how inadequate we may feel, it will bear fruit.  Just keep plugging.

And our gospel says not to give just out of our surplus or when it’s convenient, but to be wholehearted and generous as best we can each day. 

Even when we make the sign of the cross (to help us be faithful to God who created us all equal, to Jesus who models giving it all we can, to the Spirit who is at work in our world no matter what it seems), we remind ourselves that we are trying to be the best Christians we can be.  We cross out (so to speak) the possibility of seeing ourselves or anyone as being a “justa.”

  • Don’t be afraid. 
  • Wait for Jesus; be persistent and patient.
  • Give life all you’ve got—time, treasure, self.

We need to be people who dare to live fully, to not worry about what we don’t have, and to continue to learn how to be Christians.  Writing no one off, we need to be people who see others as full of possibilities and gifts (never “justas”).  So the next time we need a reminder to give it all we’ve got and encourage others to do the same, try making the sign of the cross and mean it

Nancy DeRycke
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