Reflection for Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (B) – November 11, 2018
Jesus 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.”
It’s easy to fall into the trap of sacrificing authenticity, just for the sake of doing what we think we should be doing, and this is certainly true when it comes to giving to others. It’s so easy to want to present ourselves in a way that matches the picture we think we should be putting forward – for the world, for ourselves, and for our God. But what is the good in giving if we don’t really mean it? Or if we do it mindlessly? We have so many opportunities to give of ourselves – whether it’s our time, our attention, our money, etc. Perhaps we’ve been made to feel that the more we give of all of these, the better people we are. But what would mean more to you: a large present given to you that a friend found in his home, randomly picked among all the other nice things he owns? OR a small item given to you that you know is special to your friend? She chose it intentionally for you and was willing to give it up for you, even though she did not have another.
In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus observes how the poor widow did not have much money to give, but when she did give a few cents, it really meant something – she was giving with her heart, too, and not just her hands. She did not give mindlessly out of excess, nor did she give for the show of putting money into the basket. In being willing to give up the little she had, she was truly giving of her whole self. Some of us may physically be able to offer more than others, whether time, attention, or money, but what we hear in the Gospel is that it’s not just a matter of what we give, but how we give. Jesus is inviting us all to make our giving really mean something. He is calling us to give more, and not necessarily with our hands, or in words alone, but with our hearts.
If I speak with the tongues of the living, and of angels, but speak without love,
I am only brass without song, an empty noise on the wind.
If I should renounce all my riches, feed the hungry, give over my life;
Without love my profit is loss, my caring finds no reward.
Set your heart on the higher gifts, on the things that come from your Maker in heaven.
These three gifts are all that remain:
faith, hope, and love, and the greatest is love.