A REFLECTION OF THE HEART
32nd Sunday In Ordinary Time (B)
The lesson of the Widow’s Mite (Mark 12:38-44)
A Reflection: by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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.”
The Gospel Of The Lord./Praise To You O Lord Jesus Christ.
God speaks to us through the Scriptures. This Sunday God is inviting us to reflect on the importance of giving and generosity. It relates to us the story of a poor widow who gave everything she had into the temple’s treasury. It happened that our Lord Jesus with his disciples were at the temple sitting near the treasury. Rich people came to drop a large amount of money until a poor widow did the same with only two small copper coins. Jesus took this as an opportunity to teach his disciples an important lesson on giving. In the eyes of the world, the gift of the widow might be insignificant but to our Lord, it is of great value. Jesus said, “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.” Let me focus my reflection on the importance of giving. However, I’d like to encourage my readers to dig deeper also into the message of the Gospel. There’s something in the story than meets the eye. The story of the widow’s mite is not only about sacrificial giving. The warning of our Lord Jesus to beware of the scribes for they “devour widows houses” tells something more profound than the lesson on generosity. In the Gospel, the widow was praised but those people who abused her generosity were condemned. The Gospel therefore also warns the readers not to take advantage of other people’s kindness and generosity. Regardless of your interpretation of the text, I would say that it is worth pondering on the lesson about giving. It is very obvious that ‘giving’ is an important part of Christian living. We cannot do away with it. As Jesus commanded us to “Love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves.” “Whatever you do to the least of my brethren you do it unto me.” We as Christians are being called therefore to be generous, to be charitable at all times.
But giving may not be that easy. Some people may be so inspired to share their time and talents but may find it so hard to share their treasure. Thus, we often hear people say “I’ll give when I got rich.” But I think, it is not a matter of having plenty to be able to learn how to give, it is a matter of the heart. In the First Reading of today, we see the prophet Elijah who challenges the faith of the widow by testing her generosity. Elijah was a total stranger to the widow and in their encounter, Elijah asked for water to drink as well as bread to eat. But the widow said that she only had very little flour left for her and her son, “when we have eaten it, we shall die.” It was then that Elijah challenges her not to be afraid, but to be generous and to place her trust in a loving and providential God. For if we do so, there would be a miracle – “The jar of flour shall not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, until the day when the Lord sends rain upon the earth.” The widow did as she was told by Elijah and the miracle transpired. The lessons we got from the First Reading is that – “not to be afraid to give in the awareness that we have a providential God.” Those who know how to give will always experience God’s providential care. Our lack of sense of generosity is a manifestation of our lack of trust in a gracious and loving God. Just like the widow in the Gospel, we can only learn to give from our livelihood if we trust that God will provide for us.
There’s a very inspiring story about the power of giving as told by a certain Ilene Wright that I would like to share herewith:
“Several years ago he, his wife and their child were destitute. They had lost everything, had no jobs, no money and were living in their car. They were not Christians at the time and had decided to make a suicide pact, including the child. They drove to a cliff and quietly discussed their fate. They decided that they should at least give their child some food before they killed themselves and drove away to buy him some milk and food.
They were standing in line at the store and realized they did not have enough money to pay for the few little items they wanted to give their child for his last meal. Then, he said a man behind him spoke and asked him to please take the money from his hand and to not look at him. The man also told him and his family that “Jesus loves you.”
The man said that they left the store, drove back to the cliff and wept for 4 hours. They knew that they could not go through with what they had planned to do, so they drove away. They drove by a church with a sign that said “Jesus loves you”, and went to the church the next Sunday. The man and woman both got saved that day in Church.
The man then told the Pastor that the minute he stood up in the pulpit and started speaking that he knew immediately that the Pastor was that kind stranger from 9 years ago. He said he would never forget that accent. The Pastor is from South Africa, so he has a very distinct accent. He continued on to tell the Pastor that because of his one random kind act he saved three lives that day, and because he had told them that Jesus loves them, it had drawn them into a church where they accepted Christ!!!!”
Lastly, let us always remember that whatever good deeds extended to our fellowmen, big or small, is a love extended to God. Let us ask God for that grace to have always an increase of Charity in our hearts.