Mark 12:38-44 The Poor Widow’s Contribution

Giving is necessary expression of Christian faith and love, the spontaneous outcome of Christian life. “Freely you received, freely give” (Mt 10:8).  James I. McCord (1919-90) once said,  “I cannot think of a better definition of Christianity than that: give, give, give.” “It is possible to give without loving, but it is impossible to love without giving” (Richard Braunstein). Hence, Christian who never gives is a dead Christian.  As the saying goes, “The Dead Sea is the dead sea because it continually receives and never gives” (Anonymous).

The essence of generosity is self sacrifice. As Barclay says, “Giving does not begin to be real giving until it hurts.” Jesus commended the widow not for giving away so much, but for keeping so little”  (Ed Owens). “He who gives what he would as readily throw away, gives without generosity; for the essence of generosity is in self sacrifice” (James Taylor). “Our culture values the size of the gift, but God values the size of what we keep” (Ed Owens). Hence, Bishop Fulton J, Sheen warns, “Never measure your generosity by what you give, but rather by what you have left.”

In today’s gospel, Jesus presents a poor widow as one who gives all, personifying one who loves God with all her being. A widow is also portrayed as a disciple who gives with a joyful heart, in imitation of Jesus who gives his very life for the sake of others. Simply said, the widow is praised for her boundless generosity and self-sacrifice.

Francis M. Balfour teaches us how to concretize this virtue of giving when he wrote:

The best thing to give to your enemy is forgiveness; to an opponent, tolerance; to a friend, your heart; to your child, a good example; to a father, deference; to your mother, conduct that will make her proud of you; to yourself, respect; to all men, charity.

Prayer: “Dearest lord, teach me to be generous; teach me to serve you as you deserve; to give and not to count the cost” (Ignatius of Loyola


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