Monday, 13 November 2006

Pauperes Spiritu

From The Gospel for Today:

[Jesus] sat down opposite the treasury
and watched the people putting money into the treasury,
and many of the rich put in a great deal.
A poor widow came and put in two small coins,
the equivalent of a penny.

Then
he called his disciples and said to them,
‘I tell you solemnly,
this poor widow has put in more
than all who have contributed to the treasury;
for they have all put in money they had over,
but she from the little she had
has put in everything she possessed,
all she had to live on’
How often has this passage been hammered into an exhortation to contribute more towards the financial well-being of one's congregation or Church! Indeed, this section of the Holy Gospels, so pregnant with meaning, seems to become in the hands of most preachers or homilists a tool to make the materially rich feel guilty, since their donation, when measure by percentage of total income, is small.

No doubt this is part of the message to be extracted hence. But to me, the passage strikes me not because I can identify my wealth, or even my talents and skills, with the wealth of the rich, and therefore n be moved towards generosity by the widow's example. I can no longer locate myself in the countenance of the rich. I identify with the poor widow, though, since my devotion, my fervour, the strength of my faith, yes ... even my love, seem never to amount to more than two mere coins. Yet, as I learn here, if I give all of my poverty in an act of self-donation without measuring carefully the gift, it will nevertheless be precious before the Divine Countenance.

There is something vital, something aglimmer with hope, in this passage:
We are all widows, and poor. Yet, He will not despise the gift.

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