The scribes de­nounced, a poor widow com­mended

Manila Bulletin - - Editorial - 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.”


Je­sus com­mends a poor widow for putting two small coins into the tem­ple trea­sury. He is struck by the gen­eros­ity of this woman who is not ex­pected to give away her hard-earned alms, her whole liveli­hood. He takes her as an ex­am­ple of gen­eros­ity.

Je­sus also ob­serves rich peo­ple giv­ing large amounts, but he does not com­mend them. He gives spe­cial at­ten­tion to the poor widow. The priests in the Tem­ple, on the other hand, must be hap­pier with the hefty do­na­tions given by the af­flu­ent.

Here Je­sus teaches us that God gives im­por­tance to the gen­er­ous heart. It de­pends on the giver. We may say the poor widow ex­ag­ger­ates her gen­eros­ity; she need not give ev­ery­thing. But Je­sus sees some­thing else. He does not take of­fense at her ac­tion. Rather for Je­sus, she ex­em­pli­fies gen­er­ous giv­ing. It is com­mend­able to give from your need, not your sur­plus.

The First Read­ing presents an ear­lier mov­ing story of gen­eros­ity from an­other poor widow. The prophet Eli­jah comes ask­ing her wa­ter and food. She re­sponds that she is pre­par­ing her last meal. Af­ter this she and her son will die. Yet she ac­com­mo­dates Eli­jah be­cause he is God-sent, and she be­lieves that God is true to Eli­jah. The prophet as­sures her that God will take care of her and her son. He an­nounces that the famine is about to end.

The Sec­ond Read­ing does not di­rectly talk about gen­eros­ity but about the sac­ri­fice of Christ, the High Priest, of­fered once and for all for the for­give­ness of sins.

Lack of gen­eros­ity is a sign of weak faith.

SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2018,” ST. PAULS Philip­pines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail:; Web­site:

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