Saturday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

In today’s Gospel, the widow puts two small coins in the Temple treasury.  Modern translations usually try to tie the amount to modern currency.  The actual amount back then would have been 1/64th of an agricultural or common worker’s daily wage.  Yes, American currency was not in use by first century Jews.  But the point is that the amount was relatively small.  Undoubtedly, most people filing past the collection box would have contributed significantly more.  Perhaps her two small coins would have made a distinctive noise falling into the collection box.  And this would have drawn unwanted attention to her.

There are two key takeaways from this part of the passage.

One is that those spending church funds need to remember all the modern-day versions of this widow who contribute to the point of great sacrifice.  Those who use church funds (including myself) need to be good stewards of these resources.  This is true whether we spend funds directly or use resources paid by those funds.  Being mindful of the contribution of the widow here helps us to understand the great sacrifice that many have made to contribute to the Church and to its ability to fulfill its mission.  Such contributions need to be conserved to maximize the impact that these sacrificial offerings can have. 

Second is that Jesus calls all of us to such sacrificial giving.  Church staff here and faculty in Catholic schools dedicate a lot of hours to service of the people of God.  They almost always do so for significantly less pay than they might receive from secular employers.  They do so because of their love for the Church and for all of us.  Their work helps all of us to respond to our call to be saints.  Their livelihood is wholly dependent on the generosity of the faithful.

Sacrificial giving requires trust in God.  The widow showed that trust.  Jesus highlighted that trust for all of us.  Many of us give from our surplus.  Some of the largest contributions given today for various causes are but a small fraction of the income of the people giving them.  That was not the case for this widow.

How do we approach our charitable giving?  Do we give sacrificially?  Or do we give a portion of our surplus?  What is Jesus calling me to do here?