Reflection on Mark 12.38-44

All of the people contributed out of their abundance; but the poor widow, out of her poverty, has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.

Money, and the concept of generosity, is problematic for so many people. Money … the love of which is the root of all evil; money … that which stands between God and us; money … that which leads us into the sin of greed. Yes, money serves a valuable purpose as a key element in the workings of society, but our greed, our insatiable desire for more and more money, also damages the society in which we live. Our greed also damages our very souls!

In recent times we have passed into a predominantly cash-less society. This cash-less way of working has had a dramatic impact on many aspects of society, including those church collection plates that are now the recipients of the few coins and much fluff that lurks in our purses, wallets and pockets. The use of electronic commerce has created a disconnect between sacrificial giving and our struggle with anything like generosity.

Throughout scripture we read of sacrificial giving, whether in the form of tithing or in the form of the incredible generosity of the widow’s mite. In today’s reading Jesus highlights this issue. He speaks of the cash-rich whose generosity is a matter of show. He condemns those who, in reality, are hiding behind the apparent generosity of their giving of just a tiny fraction of their wealth. Yes, their giving looks generous because it can be represented in large figures. But, the ‘look’ of the thing does not tell the whole story. The giving of one hundred pounds by someone who could afford a thousand pounds is, in fact, meanness of spirit and meanness of action.

On the other hand, the widow’s two small copper coins are truly generous … generous beyond the earth-bound wisdom of so many. Why would someone who is so poor give away everything she has? The answer to that question lies in her response to God’s call. The poor widow trusted in God’s promise to provide for the needs of the faithful. The response of the poor widow challenges us to do no less.

Let us pray for a generous heart. Let us pray that we might set the needs of others ahead of our greed. Let us pray that through our generosity the mission and ministry of Christ’s Church might flourish and grow.