November 26, 2012
Feast of St. John Berchmans, S.J.
Luke 21: 1-4
He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
Little in Comparison
The story of the widow’s mite, which we hear in the Gospel of Luke today, always gives me a bit of pause. It is easier to come before God when we feel spiritually poor and humbled than when we are swimming in successes and worldly acceptance. How often do we turn to God in our hour of need, only to take Him for granted when things are going well?
And yet the story from Luke goes to a level deeper. Not only does the poor widow depend on the temple for spiritual succor and support, but she makes a total offering of her treasure in return.
The comfortable wealthy do the right external action – putting their offerings into the treasury – but Jesus does not find in them the internal disposition to give of their whole selves. And so their sizable offering means little in comparison.
Being poor in spirit entails a recognition of one’s dependence, and a willingness to hold nothing back. And this is a grace to pray for, especially in the face of rightfully gained (and even deserved) worldly success. “Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face,” the psalmist writes for today. Do I long to see God’s face, or am I wound up in trying to keep up good appearances, only giving from my excess?
—Joe Simmons, S.J.
Lord, the poor widow is not embarrassed by her donation contrasted to the gift of the wealthy. She is not intimidated by the appearance of their greatness. Instead the widow drops her two coins into the treasury and gains a wondrous gift – your tender gratitude and affirmation.
Lord, like the widow, we want to live an authentic life so our choices reflect our gospel values and not the illusion of greatness too often portrayed in our world. Lord, we pray for a more generous heart. We desire to feel the sting of sacrifice and therein love more completely.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team
Please share the Good Word with your friends!