We often refer to the Gospels as being Good News, which is what the word Gospel literally means. But we don’t always experience it as good news; all too often we perceive it as placing some kind of burden on our shoulders.
The extract given to us today, however, certainly is good news. Here Jesus points out the hypocrisy of the rich and powerful and highlights the sheer goodness of the poor widow. The implication is that she will receive a high reward in heaven while all those hypocrites will go unrewarded.
This certainly is good news for all the meek and lowly people of the world. It is good news for the poor and the disregarded people around us. It is good news for us if we have ever felt powerless or unworthy, it is good news if we stick to our principles and do our duty no matter what other people think.
The widow makes a sacrifice; she gives what little she has. She places her trust in God that he will provide for her. She stands unnoticed in the Temple but actually makes a greater sacrifice than all those high-ups who are ostentatiously walking about looking important, hoping people will notice them.
It is the Widow’s sacrifice that will be rewarded by God; her willingness to take a risk, her wish to give something back to God in return for all that she has already received from him.
This implies deep faith in God. Her simple action demonstrates what we call trust in divine providence. It implies a deep faith and trust in God that he will somehow or other provide for her needs even though she has no visible means of support.
Of course, in those days there were no social services, no DSS grants, no dole or pensions. And yet despite this people didn’t generally die of hunger. There was a greater understanding of the interdependency of us all and therefore more tolerance towards the poor.
It was a village society and each person probably had access to a plot of land where they could grow a few vegetables. There were also surrounding fields where there were scraps to be found after the harvest was gathered. So while no one was likely to starve, there were surely plenty of people who lived very poorly and at a subsistence level.
This widow while not actually starving probably didn’t have much to live on and certainly not much in the way of the comforts of life. Every penny was counted and used as wisely as possible.
The thing about this reading is that in it Jesus expresses his regard for the poor and vulnerable and assures them that they are not forgotten by God.
He pours contempt on the hypocrites and on those who take advantage of others while making a show of their religiosity. These he threatens with punishment.
It is interesting to note that the woman in the story, however, is completely unaware of Jesus praising her. She places her coin in the alms box and goes on her way. Jesus makes his remarks only to his disciples and so she is oblivious to the praise Jesus heaps on her.
This heightens the point that whatever it is she gives to the Temple she does not do it to get attention, unlike those scribes who want everyone to notice how much they are giving. So it is not only that she is giving all she possessed but also that she does it discreetly and not to gain attention. She looks for no reward, she simply does her duty.
What we need to learn from this reading is that pride and greed take us away from God while humility and poverty of heart draw us closer to him. What God is interested in is our motives. It is what drives our actions that interests him, not so much what we actually end up doing.
This is one of the most important lessons of life. We cannot hide from God, He knows our inmost thoughts and motivations; he knows what we are thinking and what drives our actions. There is absolutely nothing that we can hide from him. This is why we have to keep a constant check on our thoughts as well as on our actions.
This shows the importance of a good upbringing and a good training in our youth. It is the duty of parents to rear their children to be unselfish and to be generous towards others. It is their task to train them not only in good manners, but to have good thoughts and to be motivated by the good of all.
It is very easy to indulge children and to give in to their demands but it is not good for them. They need to learn very important lessons in life and it is only the parents who can ensure that this is done properly. In an atmosphere of unconditional love we have to be sure that they learn personal discipline and to live their lives in a moderate and loving way.
However, if the parents are selfish then the children will also be selfish; they will not learn the most important lesson of life that we are all in it together. They will not realize that what we call life is a common enterprise that involves us all. They will not realize the impact that their actions have on others and they will be the worse for it. They will go through life taking instead of giving and will never fine true happiness.
This story of the Widow’s Mite is an important one for us all. It teaches us about how important it is to have a correct inner motive for our actions. It teaches us that God notices our inmost thoughts and judges us accordingly. It teaches us the importance of generosity and the need to depend on God when we have nothing else.
These are timeless lessons that we need to be sure that we transmit to our children; that we need to be sure we have learned ourselves. These lessons are the key to a truly deep and fulfilling life.
Digest of Articles from Catholics Blogs and Websites
November 8, 2015
Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time: Trusting in God
In the first reading today and in the Gospel reading we meet two widows who are similar. Both are everyday, hard working women. Both are poor. Both put their trust in God. Both are rewarded for their faith.
The first widow is from Zarephath, a coastal city on the Mediterranean, northwest of the Kingdom of Israel. Elijah traveled through this land during a famine. As in all famines, the rich complain, and the poor starve. The woman was poor. When Elijah met up with her, she was putting her last scraps together before she and her son would die.