A fistful of dollars or just a few more dollars? Sunday Reflection – HotAir


This morning’s Gospel is Mark 12: 38-44:

In the course of his teaching, Jesus said to the crowds: “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and receive greetings in the squares, places of honor in synagogues and places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ homes and, as a pretext, recite long prayers. They will receive a very severe sentence “.

He sat down in front of the treasury and watched as the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, he said to them: «Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more than all the other contributors to the treasury. Because everyone contributed with their excess wealth, but she, with her poverty, contributed everything she had, with all her livelihood “.

How much should we put in the collection plate?

If you are like me, ask this question, especially when visiting another parish or place of worship rather than your usual church. These days, I rarely make my offerings during mass, as I don’t usually carry a lot of money with me. Thanks to electronic donations, I am much more consistent with my contributions than before, but that doesn’t help much when I attend mass at another church.

I end up having to choose between two Clint Eastwood films, as today’s title suggests. Should I throw myself? a fistful of dollars, or only A few dollars more?

This is, of course, the completely wrong question. Today’s Gospel reading and the first reading of 1 Kings recall the real question: what is the level of your faith in the Lord and how much are you willing to sacrifice? The latter is not measured in dollar signs, but in what exactly we value the most. Is it salvation or is it wealth? Nothing in either pass suggests that we shouldn’t act responsibly with money. However, both passages prompt us to consider what it means to act responsibly in the light of Christ’s salvation and the mission of his Church.

Jesus, in fact, begins his observation on the widow by noting that the scribes do not even use theirs money for their sacrifices. He accuses them of stealing from others to gain wealth, and then of using the stolen money to make a public show of mercy. Even putting aside the obvious hypocrisy and sin, what kind of commitment does that sacrifice really show? And what did these scribes hope to get out of it? This might deceive casual observers, but if they had actual faith in the Lord, they would have recognized that He cannot be deceived by such dishonesty. These are the acts of the infidels, no matter how much money went into the temple treasury at their hands.

On the contrary, the poor widow is barely getting by, partly due to the connivance of these authorities. Rather than accumulating what she has left to survive, she places her trust in the Lord and offers what little she has to the temple treasury. This is an act of faith, as Jesus points out, which resonates much louder than anyone offering just a few coins.

The first reading, however, takes us further and into how God responds to our sacrifice. Elijah meets a widow and asks her for a small cup of water and “some bread”. The widow explains that she has nothing but a handful of flour and a few drops of oil, which she was about to prepare as the last starvation meal for herself and her son. Elijah asks her to share the bread and let the power of God work through her, and in faith she gives the last bite of bread she has to the prophet. In doing so, the Lord blessed her for her sacrifice in behalf of His prophet, and she and her son were no longer hungry.

This foreshadows the Eucharist so strongly that it is almost too obvious to point out. As the body of Christ, we offer flour and water (as well as wine) as a sacrifice in our spiritual poverty in the mass. The priest, reciting in persona Christi understood, the transubstantiation into the Body and Blood of Christ, giving us the nourishment to continue our spiritual journey towards salvation. This offer Other acceptance of the Eucharist requires our full cooperation and faith, without which it becomes meaningless for us.

It is our faith as well as our sacrifice that God multiplies in this process. The widow gave Elijah only a bite of bread, yet she ate for a year, thanks to her faith. The widow put her few cents into the treasury, yet Jesus blessed her as more holy and faithful than anyone else in that congregation with her demonstration of faith in the Lord. The Eucharist derives from our continuous cooperation in the one sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, an unlimited blessing of that liturgical cooperation with the Lord.

Our sacrifice is measured in the completeness of our commitment to God and in our trust in Him, not in the dollar signs. The two poor widows in today’s readings have turned out to be richer than all in the Lord and offer us a better metric of Clint Eastwood’s greatest hits.

The front page image is a detail of “The Prophet Elijah and the widow of Serepta” by Bernardo Strozzi, c. 1640-44. Currently on display at Art History Museum. through Wikimedia Commons.

The “Sunday Reflection” is a fixed appointment, which looks at the specific readings used in today’s Mass in Catholic parishes around the world. The reflection represents just my point of view, intended to help me prepare for the Sabbath day and perhaps start a meaningful discussion. The reflections of the previous Sunday from the main page can be found here.


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