FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE WIDOW’S MITE – 4
June 6, 2015
Today’s gospel: Mark 12:38-44
“Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.” (v.41b-42). Amount-wise, it was no-contest. The rich were the more generous givers, right? Wrong. Here is Jesus’ judgment: “Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury.” (v.43). How does that figure? “For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.” (v.44). The rich probably gave 0.01% of their wealth, while the poor widow gave 100%.
The rich hardly felt what they gave; the poor widow went hungry that day. Who then was more generous?
Some the those rich were in fact those who “devour the houses of widows” (v.40a). But they strut around in the marketplaces and synagogues (v.38-39). They probably made a big show in putting large sums into the treasury, as well as in shows of piety, as they “recite lengthy prayers.” (v.40b). As hypocrites, “they will receive a very severe condemnation.” (v.40c). And their big contributions are not going to help them at all.
How much should we give? The standard is a tithe, that is, 10% of our income. But more than that, we should give until it hurts. And further, we should ensure that our money does not come from unjust acts against the poor.
Next time you go to your community or parish office to give money, consider that Jesus “sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury.” (v.41a). So be generous, be humble, be righteous, be mindful of the poor. Look at Jesus, look to the poor.
* * *