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Denunciation of the scribes the poor widow’s contribution

Gospel Reading: Mk 12:38-44
In the course of his teaching Jesus said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces, seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets. They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext, recite lengthy prayers. They will receive a very severe condemnation.”

He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, “Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.”

Jesus contrasts here the situation of the influential scribes who teach the Torah of Moses and that of the poor widow who is helpless. The scribes enjoy the benefits of their theological learning and meticulous religious observance in terms of both money and honor given them. Aside from this hypocrisy, they also “devour the houses of widows” (v 40):

they sponge on the hospitality of people of limited means. They abuse the good will of persons who place their financial resources at their disposal.

On the other hand, the poor widow who probably knows little of the Law actually fulfills the spirit and requirement of the Law. She shows a remarkable generosity, a sign of her detachment from material possessions and of her total dependence on God. She could very well give one small coin, but she gives her “all.” By giving her all, she gives “more” than the other donors. “More” here is not in quantity but in quality, not in amount given but in sacrifice.

When you give, do you give from your surplus or from your need?

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SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.