Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle B

Thirty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

widow mite.jpg

 Mark 12. 38-44

“She has put in everything she possessed”

In today’s Gospel reading Jesus denounces the behaviour of the religious leaders who make a great display of their inflated status in the way they dress, in their attitudes of superiority and in their public show of prayers, whilst their properly religious lives are empty. In contrast he praises a widow who made a very small offering to the Temple treasury, the equivalent of a penny. In giving what she could – “all she had to live on” – she quietly expressed her generosity of spirit and her total trust in God. In doing so, says Jesus, she had given more than all the others, some of whom had “had put in a great deal”.

In the days of Jesus widows were among the most vulnerable of people. In a society that did not have insurance policies, social security or pension schemes, a woman who had lost her husband had also lost her means of living; she would become utterly marginalised and totally dependent on the mercy of others. In a very telling manner she became symbolic of all ‘little people’ who, in the eyes of the world, do not matter, the sort of people whose very existence passes without notice. Yet Jesus did notice. He is alert and attentive to her presence and to her offering. Indeed, he draws attention to her as an example for us not, surely, of monetary giving, but of self-sacrificing love in any and every aspect of life.

That compassionate seeing of Jesus, the sort of seeing that notices someone everyone else has overlooked, is directed also at us. He notices every quiet act of fidelity, kindness and generosity, those acts that make a difference in this world, yet acts which the world would not see. He notices every effort in prayer, in making peace and reconciliation, in seeking truth and justice, however small and feeble they may be, and lacking in what the world would call success. He notices not the greatness of our acts, but the love with which they are performed.