St. Mark tells us that one day Jesus was teaching in the Temple. Mark 12:40
What was Jesus doing?
Jesus is doing what he always does in the gospels. What catches his eye and draws his heart are those in most need: those who need forgiveness. Jesus sees the widow.
What caught his eye?
- Superficial things that impress so many in our world?
- Expensive clothes of the prosperous?
- High social standing of those scribes?
Jesus saw what others would have missed, a poorly dressed, sad-looking woman with grief written on her face, coming to the Temple.
Perhaps she was one who would have been elbowed out of the way to make room for the prominent, well-known benefactors, with gold and silver in their money bags. The widow wasn’t important to them.
Teaching the disciples to see what he saw.
Jesus got up from the place he was sitting and called his disciples. The teacher had a lesson for them. He wanted his disciples to observe what he had observed.
He wanted them to take note of the widow. If they were to be his disciples and live his way of life, then the needy and the neglected must come first in their eyes. They were also to see how pure her intentions were as she came to worship God.
Among all the so-called religious people there that day, the widow was the one with true religion. She, not the scribes, was the important religious figure in the story. She, not the scribes, was honored by Jesus.
Mark teaches us to see what Jesus saw
Many things might seem ordinary to us, and on some days, insignificant. But that is not the way Jesus sees our lives. Jesus sees us!
Remember how Jesus described the widow: doing a simple act of love was more important than anything anyone else was doing in that impressive Temple, with all those so-called important people around.
We often miss the holiness and significance of our own daily offerings in service to God, family, and neighbor. We pray for a renewed gift of the Spirit to open our eyes and ears to see and hear with Jesus’ own eyes and ears
Mark shows us that Jesus has been giving his life throughout all his ministry. He gave his healing touch to the desperate leper; comforted the father and then cured his son rolling in a fit on the ground; fed the crowds who followed him into the desert; tirelessly engaged in arguments with the religious leaders who hounded him, etc.
Mark’s gospel tells us that Jesus used his eyes well.
He saw those scribes and their hypocrisy.
He noticed with a heart filled with compassion and with a keen sense of what was right and what was wrong.
There is something else he saw… but did not yet make explicit to his disciples. They were not yet ready for this lesson
The widow was no stranger to Jesus. He saw in her what he himself was doing all along. He too had been giving all that he had and would continue to do so, till he gave all of his life for us in Jerusalem.
We receive Jesus in Eucharist so that, like him, we can give our lives in service to those he was always pointing out to us, as he did for his disciples, the least in our midst.
For further thought…
- Who do we see first… the rich and the famous… or those in need?
- How comfortable are we when we see a stranger in need?
- Have you ever thought of the widow giving her all as doing what Jesus did on the cross?
I love the mental image you depicted of Jesus calling the disciples over to witness the behaviors in the Temple, especially of the widow but also of all those in attendance.
One thing that our parish does (which is probably a carry-over from COVID protocols) is that there is no “collection” during Mass. Instead, there is a wooden container with a small opening (for one-way interaction) that is placed just inside the Communion Rail (a sad reminder of pre-Vatican II days), but nonetheless within the Sanctuary. The expected action is that the congregation will arrive early enough and place their offerings in the container before Mass. Many, on the other hand, put their contributions in after Mass, which seems counter-intutitive to me since for me that offering signifies a way for each of us to be physically present in the Sanctuary during the sacramental action of Liturgy of the Eucharist. Most parishes still have some sort of way of taking the monetary offerings and placing them in the Sanctuary during the Preparation of the Gifts.
However, back to our parish, occasionally someone will walk up and make their offering during Mass, most notably NOT during that Presentation of the Gifts segment. When I serve as cantor, I can’t help but imagine how important it had become for them to have their offering serve as representative presence within the Sanctuary, especially when the words of consecration were to be uttered. That’s when I think of the widow and her contribution.