“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.” Mark 12:43-44
Everyone has something to give, so the saying goes—whether in wealth, talent, or time.
Today’s Gospel, the story of the widow’s mite, is a great lesson in giving—but not so much from abundance as from poverty. The widow who had little to give made her contribution in the temple as the wealthy were making theirs. Her gesture was very modest—just two coins probably worth pennies—and accomplished without calling any attention to herself. But Jesus noticed her modesty and compared it to some of the wealthy who liked to give as a way of impressing others—and giving away only what they really didn’t need in the first place.
When Jesus addressed his disciples, he had another kind of giving in mind. He talked about giving from a place of challenge or even deficit… giving out of concern for someone else’s well-being or just because the greater good is more important than our own. That was the widow in Mark’s Gospel. And many other people who have graced my life.
With our remembrance of Veterans Day approaching this Thursday, I thank God for the example of our dedicated service men and women. They defended our country with valor and distinction, and in some cases with their lives. Their sacrifice can never be repaid. But we can honor their service to our nation by serving in our communities.
Today’s reading also makes me think about the role of people who are challenged by physical impairment or special needs, or are in some way shut off from society. Some may write them off as non-contributors—people with nothing to give—but to me these are valued persons with unique gifts of their own, gifts that can be ours if we are open enough to receive them.
The joyful irony is that gifts like these are also opportunities to deepen our faith—with acts of compassion and solace, and with the hands of healing and renewal.
Friend, we are approaching the end of the liturgical year now and our readings will turn to themes of judgment and deliverance, all in anticipation of Advent. Time to get ready for the gift of the Christ Child. And a very good time to think about giving even when we’re feeling a little vulnerable… giving when we think we can’t give any more… and giving when we have a need of our own that needs filling. That’s what the widow did. I believe her reward in heaven is very great. And ours will be, too.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Father Lance Nadeau, M.M.
Prayer for 1st Sunday
God, I come before You in my lowliness,
hear my humble prayer to You
who created the universe and
all the worlds and galaxies it contains.
Yet neither suns nor stars
neither angels nor animals
but humans alone carry Your Divine Image
in which You created us.
Therefore all that I am I offer to You
all that I do I dedicate to You
and all that I have I give for the sake
of Your name and Your Reign on Earth.
Jesus, my Lord, my God, my all
may my every breath give You praise
and my life give You glory
asking only that You fill my emptiness
with Your peace, love and joy.
Prayer by Father Joe Veneroso, M.M.