The Widow’s Mite

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 12:38-44

In today’s Gospel we find Jesus seated in the Temple watching people put money into the treasury. He noticed how the rich people put in large sums of money, and a poor woman put in a penny, two copper coins. If we look at the woman’s gift purely from a human point of view, it was of minute importance. However, Jesus saw this gift as having the greatest significance. Jesus pointed her out to the disciples and explained how the poor widow put in more than all those who contributed. They contributed what they had left over, but she gave all she had. Jesus praises acts of generosity that are made with a pure heart. Jesus does not look only at the amount that is given, but into the very heart of the donor.

St. Thomas, in his commentary on the second letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians, explains the order of charity. He says that first man must be acceptable to God. If a person is not living so as to please God, then his gifts will not be acceptable to the Lord. Almsgiving, in whatever form it may take, is an expression of our love and generosity to the Lord. Our charity does not consist principally in the value of our gifts but, rather, in love for God we bear in our soul. In a homily in Barcelona in 1982, Blessed Pope John Paul II said: Our humble offering may be insignificant in itself, like the oil of the widow of Zarephath or the coins of the poor widow in the Temple. Yet our offering becomes pleasing in the eyes of God thanks to our union with Jesus.

As the poor widow returned to her home she must have been filled with a great joy. What a surprise must have lain in store for her at the end of her life! She would finally see the look of love which Jesus had cast upon her that ordinary morning in the Temple. God watches all our actions with interest and affection.

 

As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.” Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

-Mark 12:38-44


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