Scripture: Lectionary 358. Tobit 12:1.5-15.20. Tobit 13:2.6. Mark 12:38-44:
This is one of the most touching stories in Mark’s Gospel where Jesus praises an unnamed widow for giving all she has to the Temple in Jerusalem. Francis, our Pope, would have been aware of the woman and what she had done had he been with Jesus on that occasion. Like Jesus, he has a great concern for the poor and the sharing of goods with those who are in need.
We have become more aware as Catholics of the need for prioritizing this concern for the poor and we are doing some good things about it in the area of education, social work, and volunteering in areas where there are many poor people. We are not alone in this endeavor as other Christians and Jews do the same for the poor. Certainly, Pope Francis has made us more aware of how to do this by his own actions as well as his direct, clear, down to earth words.
Francis notices the poor and accepts the biblical perspective of the poor who for the most part depend upon God alone; such is their trust in Divine Providence. We can take the incident of Jesus’ noticing the widow giving her last two pennies (groats) to the ear-shaped coffers of the Temple. This action is monumental in its import and its meaning. Jesus draws our attention to it. We become attuned to the poor through what Jesus says and points out to his disciples. The woman goes unnamed just as the woman who washed his feet on one occasion and then dried them with her hair. Both the poor woman and the hospitable woman are now remembered after two thousand years by Mark and Luke. They have a memorial in their honor and are among the saints.
Thanks then to Mark’s Gospel that keeps alive their memory and the import of their total giving of oneself to God, to Jesus, and to us. As is often the case, Jesus used both of these deeds as a teaching moment for what it means to be among his followers. We learn to be concerned, aware, and effective in our own dealings with others who are less gifted with possessions than we are. Hospitality is part of our making the poor a part of the primary option. After all, it is one of the great Beatitudes: “Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Perhaps, today we may be able to spot a poor person and at least stay on the same side of the street and say hello to him or her. It’s a start! Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.