“They have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had.” — Mark 12:44
Nov. 8, Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Cycle B. Readings:
1) 1 Kings 17:10-16
2) Hebrews 9:24-28
Gospel: Mark 12:38-44 or Mark 12:41-44
By Jean Denton
Catholic News Service
Once when I was visiting the administrative offices of a large organization that serves the poor, a veteran staff fundraiser remarked, “Our experience has been that when it comes to actual donations, it is always the people who are only a step out of poverty themselves who are the most generous as a percentage of what they have.”
His comment would have us believe that today’s Gospel story, comparing the widow giving from her want with the wealthy giving from their surplus, is an example of something that happens all the time.
“It makes sense,” the staffer said, “because these are people who have experienced firsthand what it is like to be in poverty. They know the struggle, so naturally they want to help anyone who is in that situation.”
It’s fundamental solidarity.
I’ve witnessed it in my periodic visits to my church’s twin parish in Haiti: At the offertory during Mass, there’s no passing the plate. Instead, altar servers stand in the aisles holding small wooden boxes, each with a lock on the side and a money slot in the lid.
All at once (this is not an orderly procession), the people make their way to a box, crowding around to place coins and small bills — crumpled and grimy from the transactions typical of a poor, hard-labor economy — into the slot. The scene looks like a widow’s mite flash mob.
Here is a poor community’s members giving from their want out of their love for God and their ardent trust that he will care for them together as a body of his people. Indeed, their shared life as a church community is what sustains them, both spiritually and materially, and gives them hope.
They exemplify this week’s Old Testament reading in which a widow and her son, themselves a step away from starvation, share their last bit of flour and oil with the hungry prophet Elijah. Drawn together by mutual trust in God, they survive.
We are all called to this kind of solidarity in which we join in our brothers’ and sisters’ struggles. Sharing the hardship, we learn by necessity to trust — and survive — in God’s care.
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