In the course of his teaching Jesus said, "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." ( Mk 12:38-44)
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I come before you as if it were the first time, and as if it were the last time. I seek only your will for me at this moment. What do you want to say to me? What do you want me to do during this time of meditation? Do you want me to meditate with ease, filled with inspirations? Or do you want me to struggle with distractions? It doesn’t matter to me as long as I am doing your will. You have called me to this moment and you have a plan for it. Let us begin, Lord. Here I am, Lord, I come to do your will.
Petition: Lord, teach me to be generous.
1. No Strings Attached. Jesus told his followers that their love must be without any strings attached. Luke records for us some of Christ’s teachings on this topic. Here are a few: “Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back. … For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? … And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? … If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you” (Luke 6:27-38)? The Pharisees seem to be looking for repayment for what they do; they seem to be looking for recognition. In their case, strings are attached to their love for God and others. Love, real love, does not look for anything in return. All love wants to do is to give. The parable of the merciful father demonstrates this when he welcomes his prodigal son with open arms, with unconditional love. Is my love like this? Is my love for God and others pure, free of self-seeking? Are there strings attached to my love?
2. A Few Cents. With a little imagination, we can paint the scene of this beloved poor widow. We can picture her, advanced in years, moving rather slowly to make her contribution to the Temple treasury. She approaches with love and devotion, genuinely wanting to give to God and to others. We see her unwrap her two small coins taken from a piece of cloth that served for her purse. Holding them between her bony fingers we can imagine her raising her arms to reach the deposit, dropping the coins inside. She creeps off the scene and onto the pages of the Gospel to be forever remembered and loved. The Church for a time would honor the memory of her two small coins by ceremoniously bringing up a representation of them at the offertory procession.
3. Jesus the Teacher. Jesus Christ took every opportunity to teach his followers. Today’s Gospel presents yet another occasion. With great interest he calls his apostles over, pointing out what almost surely they had all missed: the love and generosity of this poor widow who “contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.” How many lessons our Lord Jesus Christ wants to teach us if we are attentive to him, if we reflect in our examine of conscience, if we open our hearts and interior hearing to him in meditation, in our times with him before the Eucharist! Jesus wants to teach us. Do we let him?
Dialogue with Christ: Thank you, Lord, for your concern for me and your desire to teach me. Who am I that you keep me in mind? You take so much time for me and have done everything possible to instruct me. You have given me gift after gift, grace upon grace, in order to make my way to heaven a clear one. Thank you for the lesson of today’s Gospel. Grant me the grace to be as generous as the poor widow, to give my whole life to you, out of love and never out of self-interest.