32nd Sun B
Christian conversion is promoted by conversation. This section is a response to and a development on the knowledge gained from the commentary section.
This Sunday's Exposition
The generosity of the poor can, at times, be so outstanding that it has become proverbial and the widow in this Sunday’s Gospel is no doubt an example of that generosity. But it is questionable as to whether Jesus was putting her up as an example for us all. There is no question that he thought her generous but there are serious questions as to whether she should have been giving at all. He has just castigated the scribes, the religious lawyers, for stealing the estates of widows. Now we see a widow giving of her earned income, to the upkeep of the temple. Were there subtle pressures on her? Shouldn’t she have been receiving from the collection, not giving to it? Immediately after this incident, Jesus stresses to his disciples the transitory nature of the Temple, to which this woman had been giving for its upkeep.
Note that above, I stated that is was questionable as to whether she should be ‘an example for us all’. I have never known destitution and, as far as monetary donations are concerned, I have never given in such a way that threatens my livelihood. My monetary giving has always been from abundance. Seeing how Jesus judged the wealthy – that they weren’t really to be praised for what they gave – I can honestly say, I cannot be praised for any monetary donations. And this would be the situation of many reading this.
But there are other ways in which we are called to give. Sometimes it will be with physical work- in caring for another one may be called to go beyond one’s resources. Or it may be emotional. I think of those who have to care for a spouse or family member with mental illness or disability. At times they can come to the end of their tether, tie the knot in the end and hang on. With people in such situations, we must be so careful. An observer may miss the signs of ‘destitution’ and expect them to give more, as was expected of this widow. Rather we need to learn to be like Jesus, seeing the real situation of people, recognising generosity in desperate situations and giving rather than taking from such people.