FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE WIDOW’S MIGHT
June 9, 2012
Today’s gospel: Mark 12:38-44
No, there is no error in the title. The use of “might” rather than “mite” is deliberate. Let us see why.
Jesus had just denounced the scribes, who were hypocritical (Mk 12:38-40). Now Jesus “sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums.” (Mk 12:41). The way people handle their money in relation to God also points to what is in their hearts. Often there is a lot of hypocrisy. Some rich people give large sums to the Church as a way of “paying off” their ongoing sins and crimes. Some make big donations as a way of sanitizing the stink of their unjustly-gotten wealth or tarnished reputations. Some give their tithe in recognition of their obligation to God (well and good), but then use the rest of their money in illicit pleasures and activities devoid of charity and justice.
Now “a poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.” (Mk 12:42). What a stark contrast. The large sums versus a few cents, worth practically nothing. But Jesus surprised his disciples by saying, “Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury.” (Mk 12:43). The world considers value in monetary terms. The higher the objective price or cost, the more valuable something is. To Jesus that was not the case. The value of something was what it cost you. It is how much you give of yourself.
Jesus expounded: “For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.” (Mk 12:44). One way to see what it cost the widow is to look not at what was given, but what was left over after giving. The rich people gave large sums that were just a small portion of their wealth, an amount that they would not even notice, an amount that would not hurt them, an amount that would not significantly alter their lifestyles. But the widow gave what she could not afford to give. She gave away her meager meal for the day. She gave everything.
Many Christians deprive God of what is rightfully His, the tithe on their income. Others give a tithe, but nothing else. But as God owns us, and thus everything that we claim to “own,” and as we are merely stewards of what belongs to Him, and as we exist in this world to honor Him and to do His work, then what we need to offer God is all that we have, in effect, all that we are. God the owner then decides how we are to dispose of the money entrusted to us.
If we decide to give, we look not so much at the amount we give, but what we have left over after we give (which we would then use for ourselves). If we decide to give, we look not to the amount we can afford, but to what we cannot afford. If we decide to give, we look not to the amount that will not cause us discomfort or pain, but to what will.
People often trust in themselves, even as they know God. And the most important thing they trust on is their money. The widow totally trusted in God. She honored God with her all. She willingly made a sacrifice for Him. The rich relied on the might of their wealth. The widow looked to the might and mercy of God.
God observes our financial giving. Will it be the rich man’s mite? Or the poor widow’s might?
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