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Memorial of Saint Boniface, Bishop and Martyr
In the course of his teaching he 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.”
Opening Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, I come before you in need of grace. I thank you for your kindness, both in listening to and speaking with me. I know that what you communicate is perfectly true and perfectly loving. Please open my mind and my heart to receive your message with docility.
- Seeking Honor: “Beware of the scribes, who like to… accept greetings (and seek)… seats of honor in synagogues, and… banquets.” It’s commendable to publicly show one’s allegiance to God, whether that be in outward dress or gestures. Did not Our Lord say, “Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket”? (Matthew 5:15). It is also, however, problematic to hide or deny our relationship to God in public. The problem is not so much “what” the Pharisees and scribes did, but “why.” Jesus corrected their distorted intentions; their actions were not for love of God but for garnering praise.
- A Poor Widow: “A poor widow also came and put in two small coins.” Everyone has something to give. It is never about the amount but the generosity: the rich gave from their surplus; the widow gave all she had. Generosity, or lack thereof, reveals a lot about a person. When a person is selfish with time or treasure, it shows an attachment either to one’s plans or to material goods. These attachments become the source of a person’s security, but any security that is apart from God is an empty one. Attachments close a person off from God and others, since both are viewed as a threat to that false security. Inversely, generosity with time or treasure shows a healthy independence from creatures. This opens the heart to God and neighbor. This is the internal logic of the vow of poverty for religious; while not all Christians are called to live the religious life, all are called to live a degree of detachment, which brings with it openness and charity.
- The Gratitude of God: The generosity and faith of the poor widow clearly moved Jesus. She gave all to the God who had given her all that she had and all that she needed. By her actions, she revealed her confidence in God’s continuing providence. The widow was generous because of her faith and humility. Nevertheless, the greater humility was that of Christ. The very Son of God showed gratitude for the generosity of his creature. Everything about Our Lord’s Incarnation shows a desire to be close to man, and he adds to that the most profound tenderness, as seen in this passage. How can the gift of “our all” compare to the gift of his “divine all” to us? It cannot. Nevertheless, he gives us his grace so that we may love him, and he cherishes our efforts when we do.
Conversing with Christ: Dear Lord Jesus, I continue to be awestruck at your boundless generosity towards me. All the good that I am, that I have, and that I do comes from you. What can I give you in return? I can give you my need, and I can give you my consent so that you continue to work in me and through me. May my actions be for your glory and not my own.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will be generous with you and my neighbor on at least one occasion, whether it be materially or spiritually.
For Further Reflection: Read “Generosity” by Dan Burke.
Written by Fr. John Bullock, LC.