The scribes denounced, a poor widow commended
Ithe 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.”
REFLECTION Contributing from poverty 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.
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