We wake up each morning and take our place in the hierarchy of life. That hierarchy is often arranged according to power, influence, status and wealth. This hierarchy is flaunted through nice clothes, greeted obsequiously in public places and dine in the finest establishments. When we have little to offer, we keep our heads low and just go about our daily routine.
Jesus is a friend to the underdog. But that does not mean he is not a friend to the well-heeled. He is a friend to every person with the concern that each soul is not taken away from him. In today’s Gospel about the poor widow he tells us that power, influence, status and wealth are corruptive elements to the pure soul. Too much of them can disguise our intentions, deceiving our very own self.
His litmus test is not the amount we drop into the offertory but our effort, sacrifice, trust and love that accompany the giving. He admires us when we have little and still give a portion of that little, not to him, mind you, but to someone else who we think will be more in need than ourselves. It is too easy to give out of our surpluses, and at the same time look good for it.
“I tell you solemnly, this poor widow has put more in than all who have contributed to the treasury; for they have all put in money they had over, but she from the little she had has put in everything she possessed, all she had to live on.” (Today’s Gospel)
It is not merely about surpluses in money. The spirit of our giving; the reasons, the intentions and the heart in the giving flattens the inequality among all persons created by the unequal distribution of world wealth and power. Jesus uses both widows in today’s readings to teach that the wealth of eternal life is measured by the size of our heart in the giving – and that heart cannot give money but love, faith and trust. In this every human person is made equal.
The more we give out of the little we have constitutes trust, faith and love. And this isn’t about money.
In the hierarchy of worldly life, we may be way down the ladder because we are lowly educated and socially awkward. We struggle to contribute to anything because the world has inflicted upon us an inferiority complex. Today’s message gives us genuine hope that the little we have to offer in terms of talent and ability will be fully appreciated. Only Jesus alone know how difficult it has been for us to make a difference, and that every ounce of effort we put in is not from our surpluses. We must not let the world extinguish this hope.
Hope and trust is a couple that leads us into greater faith. When we run low on hope in worldly matters, we are called to empty ourselves and put all our trust in him. When we have little, and still give in trust and faith, our jars in life will never empty.
“Jar of meal shall not be spent, jug of oil shall not be emptied, before the day when the Lord sends rain on the face of the earth.” (First reading)
32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time