Reflection on the Daily Readings for 6/06/09 by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: Sat. of first week. Tobit 12:1.5-15.20. Tobit 13:2.6. Mark
12:38-44. Lectionary # 358:
Jesus gives the disciples and us a great lesson today. It is connected
with generosity and total self-giving. Something that makes us saints if we
buy into what he is saying. From where he is, he is able to see a poor
widow going to the entrance of the temple and taking her last two copper
coins. There are thirteen receptacles or collection boxes and she heads
toward one of them and places them into the coffer. The apostles are
summoned by Jesus to reflect upon what he has just seen and maybe they
catch a glimpse of her as she heads toward the outer court or into the
women’s court. He says to them, “She gave from her want all that she had to
live on.” It is Jesus their teacher and Lord who tells them this and
points out the widow as she disappears inside the temple.
By now we know that the Evangelist Mark is very selective about whom he
praises or tells about whom Jesus praises. There are not many but two
scribes make the list of Jesus and so do the women followers who ministered
to him like Joanna and Susanna and Mary Magdalene. The apostles and
disciples are often oblivious to who he is and why they are following him.
He needs to lead them through many questions addressed to them and through
his teachings, healings, and parables. They come off as a group of very
ordinary men who are not yet into the realm of God’s thinking. They think
human thoughts and not the thoughts of God. This point is strong in Mark
again and again. It is, however, the “little people” who are not far from
the kingdom of God and are even within it with their trust and love for
We have seen that Herodians, Zealots, Pharisees, and scribes are not among
these little ones. Nor are the disciples till after the resurrection.
Then they will begin to deepen their faith and their love of Jesus. This
widow is offered to them as an example of how they too should be generous
with what they have. She gave her whole life in depositing those two coins.
As one of the “Poor of Yahweh” she prays the Psalms that are the property
of the poor who have only God to trust in. Her whole life was probably
sustained by those beautiful suppliant psalms. They were especially said
when approaching the temple and certainly when inside the temple. Jesus is
teaching his disciples and challenging them to realize that she can be a
splendid example for what he is calling them to do.
These are Jesus last words to them that are primarily aimed at
discipleship; the rest will be his own total self-giving in his sufferings,
and death on the cross. The words “fittingly close his ministry and they
serve as a perfect transition to the story of how one who had come to serve
and now is going to give”everything he had,”not only his living but his
very life for humanity.” (Wilfrid Harrington, O.P., Mark, page 193). Mark
had already given us Jesus similar words in chapter 10:45:”For the Son of
man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a
ransom for many.” Amen.