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November 7, 2021: Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Gospel – Mark 12:38-44

In the course of his teaching Jesus said to the crowds, “Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces, seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets. They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext recite lengthy prayers. They will receive a very severe condemnation.”

He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, “Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.”


I looked at the upperclassman. Spirit week (hero day) and he was in PJs. How inappropriate. This from a student leader. Like our world needs a couch potato hero. He caught my eye. He asked, “Do you know who I am?” In his words (and tone) I knew he had already been reprimanded for the costume. I heard his plea to see his side.

Stifling the urge to reply about the urgency of our AP Chemistry work, I glanced over the striped PJs. At least they were clean and provided appropriate coverage. Something clicked. I replied, “You are ‘The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.’” He responded, “I knew you would see and understand.”

A short while before the entire school had watched that 2008 film together. For those of you who have not seen the movie, it is about the Holocaust. The central characters are the Jewish boy in the concentration camp (PJs) and the German boy whose father ran the camp.

My first glance (and analysis) of his costume had missed my student’s insight and leadership. That call to a deeper look, imagining as best I can, the world through God’s eyes, is what I feel each time we read this gospel.

God sees and knows everything. Yet, we need not be afraid of our imperfections. God knows each and every one of our works in progress. He sends His conduits to support us when we face challenges. When we stumble, the Good Shepherd places us upon His shoulders. We are loved unconditionally.

The secret is that each person in the entire world is on a similar journey with God. Even if all the rest of the world sees two little coins, God invites us to be a conduit of His love to others. Our first tiny step is to look deeper and reanalyze.


If you have not yet seen it, please view the 2008 film “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.” It is a good film to use as a starting point for a discussion on perspective and intentions. Look around you this week to recognize someone making what the world might see as a small step forward (or a small contribution). Step up to be one of God’s conduits sharing His love as you support and encourage.

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Helen Flavin

Helen Flavin is a Providence Associate. She is a Catholic scientist, educator and writer. Helen received her Ph.D. in Neurochemistry from Boston College. She is a fulltime science teacher. She is a guest columnist for her Diocese’s Catholic Newspaper “The Anchor.” She enjoys volunteering at the local nursing home.

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