22 November 2010
Today’s Readings: Rev 14,1-5/Lk 21,1-4
Widows, even until the time of Jesus, were among the poorest of the poor. The social system in the Land was such that when a woman’s husband died, the widow was left to fend for herself and her children. One did not expect that she would show generosity, giving away the little she had. But this was exactly what she did when she put into the temple treasury the small amount that was left with her. In the public’s eye, the measly amount she dropped in the treasury looked very pathetic. She even looked ridiculous because she was in the same line as the rich who poured in substantial amounts of money in the same treasury. She did not mind public opinion. She did what she believed she had to do.
For Jesus, what the widow showed was more than an act of generosity. It was an act of faith, of trust in God. She gave all that she had without any reservation. One would probably judge this to be an imprudence, for she risked having nothing left to provide for herself and her children. But the story is one of contrast – the quality of giving between the rich and the poor. The rich gave generously from their abundance, but the widow gave all she had from her poverty.
Given our culture of consumption and instant gratification, it is difficult for us to appreciate the conduct of the widow. We never have enough to share. We have translated our wants into needs so that we have multiplied our “basic necessities”. If we give something to the needy, we feel that we have given from our necessity.
How could the widow have done what she had done? The only reason we can find is that she must have had an experience of God’s presence in her life so compelling that she was convinced what she did was what she had to do.