Readings: 1 Kings 17:10-16
Through Elijah, a widow and her son are blest with enough flour and oil
to supply them for a year.
Psalm 146:7,8-9 9-10
A prayer of praise to God who raises up the lowly
Christ died once to take away sin; he will return again to bring salvation.
Mark 12:38-44 (shorter form, Mark 12:41-44)
Jesus notices a poor widow’s offering and commends her great sacrifice.
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."
In the first part of today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus warn the crowds not to follow the example of the scribes in seeking honor and attention from others. It is important to recall that Mark indicates that Jesus taught these things while in the vicinity of the Temple in Jerusalem. Mark is setting the stage for Jesus’ passion.
Jesus then observes how Jewish pilgrims are making their contributions to the temple treasury. The Temple in Jerusalem was the center of Jewish worship in the time of Jesus. It was expected that observant Jews would make pilgrimages to the Temple to offer prayer and sacrifices. Pilgrims were also expected to make a financial contribution to the temple treasury.
As we would expect to be the case, Jesus observes that those who were rich contributed large sums to the treasury. Those with less means made smaller contributions. A similar situation exists in most of our parishes as well. Jesus calls attention, however, to a poor widow who makes the smallest of contributions—two coins of little value. Jesus upholds the poor widow’s offering for his disciples’ consideration, commending her because her small offering was an act of profound generosity, giving from her livelihood rather than her surplus.
To give from our livelihood is not only an act of generosity, it is also an act of trust in God. We can only give from our need if we trust that God will provide for us. Jesus himself demonstrates the ultimate act of generosity and trust in God as he gives his life for us on the cross.
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