Strength of Faith.
A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.
We are near the end of our Ordinary Time reflection on Strength of Faith. In these last two weeks Jesus’ message focuses on the end times, the eschatological moment. Considering His immanent return, we are to offer Him our complete surrender. We are to walk the gospel path even more closely. We are to redouble our efforts in strengthening our faith by placing our full trust in our heavenly Father.
Jesus has been teaching in the Temple. His subject, in the passage from Mark today, is on strength of faith. Jesus compares the weakness of self-interested faith exhibited by Israel’s religious leaders and then points to a poor woman and her total gift, the giving of all she had.
God measures our strength of faith, not in the amount of stuff we do, not by counting, but by the totality of our spirit in doing it. We are measured by how deeply and completely dedicated we are to the gospel way.
Jesus well knew, while teaching in the Temple precincts, that He would completely surrender Himself to His Father’s will in just a few days. His all would be given through the torture of the Passion and His death on the Cross. He also knew that He had to show us the way, and He did so through the example of the widow’s absolute surrender and total trust in God.
Jesus points to the religious leaders of the day. They were honored in everyday language. They were given the head seats at the synagogue and at feasts. The people even stood as they passed by in their flowing white robes. Jesus condemns them for being self-intoxicated, men who even abused their privileges by sponging off the poorest, literally devouring them.
Here in contrast comes the devoted widow. She had nothing but her last two coins. Remember, widows depended on others for support. She had no support network, no friends to help her out. What she had she had, and… she gave it to God. That is an act of Strength. That is an act of Faith. That is trust in the heavenly Father. Her poverty exhibited in the coins she gave, the smallest minted in Palestine, a copper “lepton” worth one eighth of the smallest Roman copper coin, a “quadrans” worth a penny.
Others were literally throwing in (eballon) their gifts, like a rich man burning money. Wrapped in their security blanket, they thew in their ten percent without a thought.
The nature of the widows gift was not in its money value, it was in her total giving. Her placing it (ebalen) showed the motivation behind her gift was total commitment to and trust in God.
As we approach the last days, as we look forward to Jesus’ return, let us live like the Widow – all in.