In the course of his teaching Jesus said to the crowds, "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."
At my inner-city parish we do our Sunday offering a bit differently perhaps, than you might in your parish. Because our congregation is small--usually less than a hundred people--we don’t pass baskets. Instead, we have a beautiful silver urn placed near the sanctuary. As the gifts are being prepared for the Eucharist, people come forward to place their offerings in this vessel.
Since many of our parishioners are not wealthy—in fact some are very poor—the scene at our Sunday liturgy is much like what Jesus witnesses in today’s Gospel. There, rich and poor place offerings in the temple treasury. It’s a poor widow who catches the Lord’s eye—her gift carries greater value than all the rest since she gave from her poverty, not her surplus. Like the Old Testament story today of a suffering widow who shares with the prophet Elijah, both stories emphasize prioritizing—a “Kingdom theme” we find in these Scriptures near the end of the Church year.
I don’t like to preach on money or beg for financial help in my ministry, but I have to do it sometimes. It’s important for each of us in the community to share generously in order for our local Church—as well as the global Church—to do the work of the Kingdom. As you make your offering today, I invite you to reflect on Jesus’ call to generosity.
This week's first reading tells how, during the time of famine, Elijah asked the widow for water and bread. Did she give it to him? What happened next?
In the second reading, why did Christ give his life? Will Christ return a second time?
In this week's Gospel, why did Jesus praise the poor widow? What were the rich offering in the Temple? What lesson did Jesus teach his disciples by calling their attention to the widow’s small gift?
by Susan Hines-Brigger
This week, have everyone in your family put all of his or her change in a jar. At the end of the week, donate the money you have collected to a charity or place it in your parish's collection basket.
The Gospel shows that sometimes the smallest gestures can make a big impact. Make an extra effort to do those small things, such as saying "hello" to someone on the street or writing a short note to let someone know you care.