32 Sunday B: Poor Widow's Copper Coins


The Bagger boy with Down syndrome makes a difference at the store: His copper coins:

From Fr. James Gilhooley                     
A government social worker was visiting New England farms. He had the authority to give federal dollars to poor farmers. He found an elderly widow farming a few acres. Her house was clean but tiny. There did not appear to be much food in the house. The windows had no screens to keep out the summer flies. The exterior needed a paint job. He wondered how she could survive. He asked, "What would you do if the government gave you five hundred dollars?" Her answer was, "I would give it to the poor."

She was similar to the widow whom Daniel Webster had in mind. He was asked, "What moved you to become a Christian?" He replied, "Studying the way an old woman in New Hampshire lived." The women of these two stories had much in common with today's Gospel widow. They were obviously cut out of the same bolt of exquisite damask. All three have much to tell us. Do most Catholics give a fair share of their income to the Church and to charities? A Gallup poll answered that query. In a recent year, American Catholics gave 1.3% of their income to parish and charities. But Protestants gave 2.4% and Jews 3.8%.

Our comparative tightness with our dollars comes despite Rousseau's admonition. "When a man dies, he carries in his hands only that which he has given away." We would do well to recall the question asked about the wealthy man who died. "How much money did he leave? The answer came promptly. "All of it!"

Who of us has ever seen a U Haul hitched to a hearse? The title of a 1938 film says it all: You Can't Take It With You.

The Nazarene must appreciate the boldness of those who tithe. Incidentally He Himself did the same in the synagogue at Nazareth for most of His adult life. A survey reveals while 44% of Baptists tithe, but 4% of Catholics do. Giving 10% of one's income to the church and charities can be a frightening sum to consider. But those who do it testify that God has never let them down. Most of us are just too fearful of finding out whether that will be the case. So, we shall die wondering. And, more than likely, we are destined to die with regrets. Research by Patrick Carney revealed that the highest percentage of Catholic contributions in the New York diocese comes from African-Americans in Central Harlem. Most of us Caucasians have higher incomes than the majority of these people. But they have more in common with the woman of Mark's Gospel than we. These people would remind us that faith motivates people to open their wallets. Perhaps they have in mind Paul's advice in 2 Corinthians 9:7, "God loves a cheerful giver."

Bertrand Russell wrote, "To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness." Too often the comfortable give to God as though they were poor. And the poor give to Him as though they were wealthy.

Many Catholics are more generous to waiters than to God. They give up to 20% of their bill. That is double-tithing. They would be embarrassed and afraid to give to waiters what they give to God. He deserves not a tip but a tribute.

Someone has enumerated four different types of giving. The first is called grudge giving. I hate to part with this twenty dollars but I will. The second is shame giving. I must match whatever the Jones family is giving. The third is calculated giving. We part with our money with what, someone deliciously called, a "lively sense of favors to come." Bingos, Las Vegas nights, and raffle tickets fit in very nicely in this category. The final category is thanksgiving. I part with my funds precisely because God has been so wonderfully generous to me. The widow of today's Gospel fits comfortably into this area.

This tale also points up another truth about our Christian selves. The majority of us do not fully give ourselves to the Christ. We are marking time with our Catholic lives. We are hedging our bets. The clever Mark situates his famous story during the last week in the life of the Nazarene. None too subtly he is reminding us that in a few days He will give His life for us on Calvary. What do we give Him in return?

Thus the Gospel reminds us that we should give, in Cardinal Mercier's words, not only what we have but also what we are.

Remember this epitaph on an English gravestone. "What I kept I lost. What I spent I had. What I gave I have."


Thomas O'Loughlin
Introduction to the Celebration  

We can gather here because each of us has heard, in some way or another, the divine invitation to become beloved daughters and son of the Father. The Spirit has moved our hearts to set out to follow the Lord, and we have started on a journey towards the Father in the way we live our lives. However, as we gather today to celebrate this journey, we are also conscious that we often fail to live life in accordance with this invitation. The gospel recalls Jesus seeing a poor widow in the temple treasury and his way of looking at this woman is a challenge to all of us who accept his invitation to follow him. 
Gospel: Mk 12:38-44 (shorter version: 41-44)
These two pieces of tradition, one a teaching on religious ostentation, the other an object lesson drawn from life, are connected by Mark as a unit in that they both mention widows — the very image of poverty and marginality in ancient patriarchal societies. In the first part of the periscope the summit of offence is that these religious people abuse widows and swallow up their life-support; in the second part of the periscope we are presented with an ideal of righteousness: the widow is greater than the wealthy and the ostentatious. The real devotee is the person who shares their little rather than the great donor whose name is then held in honour. As arranged by Mark this periscope is like a diptych: two joined pictures facing each other and we are invited to compare, indeed contrast, the characters in each. On the one hand, a scene that is visible to the whole public, while on the other a private scene that goes unnoticed except by Jesus. The first character belongs to the world of ostentation and display, the widow to gritty reality and there her great offering places her in the presence of God.

This short crisp unit is only found in Mark. Several bits of this pericope survive in Luke but they are far less focused, while Matthew has mutilated the first section out of recognition and omitted the actual woman. 

Sean Goan 

This incident takes up a theme present in the first reading, namely that those who show the greatest generosity are not always those with the most to give. However, before Jesus comments on the poor widow who gives of her all he roundly condemns those whose behaviour brings the practice of religion into discredit. Their aim is to be noticed and well thought of because of their adherence to religioUs ritual but by their actions they are revealed as oppressors who care nothing for the plight of those most in need, in fact they even add to their misery. This is a sham that offends Jesus to the core. It is in the context of condemning such behaviour that he notices the poor widow whose actions show her to be a woman of deep faith and trust. It is worth pointing out that Jesus is not suggesting that the poor who give of what they have and leave themselves with nothing are doing what is expected of them. No, he is merely using the behaviour of the woman the show up the inadequacies of others who could learn much from her.

Michel DeVerteuil  
Textual Comments

Jesus is teaching in Jerusalem, the center of the Jewish religion, the heart of the opposition to all he stood for. Remembering this
context will give an added dimension to our meditation.

The passage is in two sections:
-    verses 38 to 40,
-    verses 41 to 44, the touching story of the widow.

In verses 38 to 40 we see first the simple fact that Jesus spoke out courageously in Jerusalem – a model not merely for the church but for all his followers. Then there is the content of his teaching – the tendency for all of us religious people to seek public approval (usually an unconscious tendency brought to light by a Jesus person). Follow St Mark in making a connection between that tendency and swallowing the property of widows in verse 40.

We must be careful to interpret verses 42 to 44 correctly. Jesus is not pointing out the difference between people who can give plenty and people who can give very little, as the passage is often interpreted. He is pointing out the difference between giving what we have left over and giving all that we have.
You might like to focus on Jesus again in this section - for example, on the fact that he noticed the widow. What kind of person does this show him to be?
You might also like to see if you can make a connection between the two sections of the passage, based on your own experience.


In the modern era it is no doubt hard for us to relate to language about the blood of animals and sacrifices by priests in the temple. However, the language of sacrifice is still very relevant to our world. Ironically this can be seen in the first reading where the actions of a poverty-stricken widow show us that the only sacrifice that matters is self sacrifice. God is not interested in the spilling of blood for this makes no change either in him or us. Rather God is concerned about whether we live for ourselves or for others, and Jesus in offering his life, not just by his death on the cross but by everything he did, has shown us the way. 


1. When we stand and recite the creed we affirm our belief in the events surrounding our salvation: the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and in what he has revealed to us about the Father and the Spirit. Because we solemnly affirm this faith each Sunday, it is all too easy to slip into thinking that to be a Christian is simply a matter of accepting that creed. The argument runs like this: I profess the creed, therefore I am a ‘Christian’. That is fine if you think of being a ‘Christian’ in terms of accepting a particular set of religious beliefs. But one might be described as a ‘Christian’, and yet not be a follower of the Christ.

2. To be a follower of Jesus is far more engaging than just accepting a creed: it is a whole way of thinking about life, a way of acting, and an alternative vision of the world. Following Christ involves us as social beings how we relate to other human beings, economic actors in society — what constitutes our values for success and what we believe to be worthy economic goals, and how we work to build up the society around us — how we relate to the larger problems such as peace-making, global poverty, the destruction of the environment.

3. Being a Christian involves seeing the whole of the universe as the creation of a loving God.

4. We glimpse this new vision of life in the tiny incident that is recalled today. It seems so banal: a tiny incident by an anonymous poor woman and a comment by Jesus upon it — can that really indicate a wholly different vision of the world from that which is our society’s common ‘default option’?

5. The widow, the proverbial image for the most marginalised in ancient society, is a person of no importance whatsoever. She is just one of the mass of people who need to be processed through this particular system — namely people wanting to make an offering to God at the temple — as fast as possible. She is indistinguishable from thousands of others and what she actually contributed is, equally, viewed as insignificant. She is not a person, but a biological entity. She is the type of person that can be left queuing indefinitely without being spoken to or given a sign of fellow human recognition. She can be brusquely pushed aside by clearly uniformed minor officials when a VIP has to be given special treatment and impressed. She is, if she dared to speak to one of those officials, just a problem. In terms of her economic significance, she is nothing. And the frightening reality is that we view so much of the world using that optic. If an individual, a group, a country does not impact on us economically, then it and its problems do not matter. We are more interested in countries whose land has oil than carrots!

6. The wealthy making a carefully calculated donation to the temple, and getting VIP treatment while they do so, are a familiar group: they would love to be alive today in ‘the age of celebrity’ and would be happy to volunteer to participate in some glitzy event. But we also see the widow. One might even experience her plight while waiting in casualty in a hospital, trying to obtain justice from some vast bureaucracy, or even at a large religious gathering when it is clear to the stewards that some are more united to Christ than others.

7. Jesus’s view of the situation is radically different. Each person is to be viewed as an individual. And each individual is worthy of respect for each is to be understood from within her or his own circumstances. This woman, her situation, her intention: these form the framework of how Jesus sees her. Only within this framework can it be seen that she has given more than the rich.

To learn to view others with dignity and respect is no easy ttask: it goes right against the grain. To relate to individuals rather than mobs is also counter-cultural and flies against the fundamentals of mass consumption. To appreciate that each person is a beloved of God can only be known by those who themselves have responded to divine invitation to become beloved themselves.

8. To learn to view others with dignity and respect is no easy task: it goes right against the grain. To relate to individuals rather than mobs is also counter-cultural and flies against the fundamentals of mass consumption. To appreciate that each person is a beloved of God can only be known by those who themselves have responded to divine invitation to become beloved themselves. 

Prayer Reflection: 

Lord, people today set great store on show;
-    the wealthy and powerful are much sought after;
-    -when people give donations to charity it is written up in the papers.
We pray that the church may continue to judge things like Jesus did.
When we sit down opposite a treasury
and see those who are putting in a great deal
we may notice, like Jesus did, the poor widow
who comes and puts in two small coins, the equivalent of a penny.
Give us the courage then to call people and to say plainly to them
that the poor widow has put in more
than all who have contributed to the treasury,
for they put in what they had over,
but she, from the little she had, put in everything she possessed,
all she had to live on.

Lord, if the property of defenseless people
is so often swallowed up in society today
it is because we are putting too much store on public acclaim,
on who is wearing long robes,
and being greeted obsequiously in the market squares;
on who takes the front seats in church
and places of honour at banquets.
Lord have mercy.

Lord, we remember with gratitude a time when we were not succeeding
-    at school, no matter how much we tried we could not get our sums right;
-    in our family, a brother or sister just kept getting on our nerves;
-    at work, others finished their tasks long before we could
We thank you that at that moment you sent Jesus to us
- a teacher, a parent, a supervisor,
someone who understood that even though we did not have much to show
we were giving more than all the others
because from the little we had we were giving everything.

Lord, Jesus was such a balanced person.
He pointed out the faults of the powerful,
those who made a show if lengthy prayers
and at the same time swallowed the property of widows.
But he was also constructive.
By praising the poor widow who gave everything she possessed,
he showed us all the way we could go.

Lord, when we find people using lengthy prayers
to cover up the fact that they are swallowing the property of widows
we are more severe in our judgment of them,
Now we know that Jesus felt the same way.

“A society that does not value women turns likewise a deaf ear to its children;
in other words, it cuts off its own future.”    
Jeanne Henriquez of CuraƧao

Lord, we pray that like Jesus we may always notice the women of our society
Who give themselves unreservedly to bringing up their families.
From the little they have, they put everything they possess,
All they have to live on.

“A young woman asked an old woman, ‘What is life’s hardest burden?’
And the old woman replied, ‘To have nothing to carry.’” A Jewish tale
Lord, we feel sorry for people who only know
about giving what they have left over.
They do not know the joy
of giving everything they possess to a cause they believe in.


From Fr. Jude Botelho:

In the first reading from the book of Kings we hear the story of the widow, whom Elijah meets in the town of Sodom, which is experiencing a famine. Now the prophet requests her for a little water and a meal. The widow has only a little left for herself and her son. The widow does not first ask: "Will you ask God for a special blessing on me if I give you this meal?" She is just ready to give up everything and die! Her total generosity is blessed by God's equally generous gift: she will never more know need. We can never outdo our God in generosity. Everything we give comes back to us in double measure, though the motive of our giving should not be that we should receive with interest! That would be business!

You are welcome!
One night years ago a cloudburst stranded a newly-wed couple on a remote country road. Unable to go any further, they got out of their car and set out on foot towards a dimly lit farmhouse. When they reached the farmhouse, an elderly couple carrying a kerosene lamp met them at the door. Explaining their predicament, the young man asked: "Could you put us up till morning? A place on the floor or a few easy chairs would be fine." Just then a few grains of rice slipped from the young lady's hair and fell to the floor. The elderly couple glanced down at it and exchanged a knowing glance. "Why surely children" said the elderly woman. "We just happen to have a spare bedroom. You get your things from the car while my husband and I freshen it up a bit." The next morning the newly-weds got up early and prepared to leave without disturbing the elderly couple. They dressed quietly, put a ten-dollar bill on the dresser, and tiptoed down the stairs. When they opened the door to the living room, they found the old couple asleep in chairs. They had given the newly-weds their only bedroom. The young man had his wife wait a minute while he tiptoed back upstairs and put another five dollars on the dresser.
Mark Link

In the Gospel we see Jesus teaching his disciples about the observances of the law especially about the temple rituals and practices. The purpose of the law was that people should show reverence and respect to God, but the Pharisees observed all the practices of the law to be seen, to be noticed, to attract attention to themselves and their good deeds. Jesus then points out the action of the poor widow. While the rich are perhaps attracting a lot of attention because of their large donations, she unobtrusively drops two small coins. No one even notices, her donation is too small to be worth counting, but Jesus notices. He makes her the object of his teaching on giving. "I tell you this poor widow has put more in than all who have contributed to the treasury; for they put in money they had over, but she from the little that she had has put in everything she possessed, all she had to live on." In the eyes of God it is not quantity that counts. God is not impressed by how much we give. We do not need to have much in order to give, but we have to have a generous heart. We all have moments when we are called upon to sacrifice something. Sometimes we make it a point to tell others what sacrifices we have made. Yet when we love people deeply we do not count it as sacrifice. A mother who loves her children does not remind them: "See I am making this sacrifice for you!" She just does it silently because of her great love for her children. On the other hand people who are sensitive appreciate every little gift, every little kindness done by their loved ones. In love there is no big thing or small thing. The smallest gesture can assume great importance in the context of love. Our God is the God of small people and small things!

God's Juggler
You may have heard the story of God's Juggler. In the middle ages a juggler was juggling his coloured balls and pins in the market place when some monks came by. The juggler expressed his desire to be a monk. The monks said, "What can you do?" The juggler replied, "I juggle". The monks said, "Well, you will have to change your ways." The juggler became Brother Lawrence in the monastery. Years passed and one Christmas the monks decided that each one would present a masterpiece to the infant Jesus. All but Lawrence came up with an idea. On Christmas eve, Lawrence locked himself in the church. The monks thought he had gone mad. They ran up the choir loft and looked down. There was Lawrence juggling before the crib scene. They were going to go down and seize him as one gone berserk. But as Lawrence finished his juggling, the monks saw the infant in the manger reach out with a smile. Lawrence had given his all.
Source Unknown

When giving becomes a sacrifice
Mother Teresa told a story of how one day she was walking down the street when a beggar came up to her and said, "Mother Teresa everybody is giving to you, I also want to give to you. Today for the whole day I got only thirty cents. I want to give it to you." Mother Teresa thought for a moment: "If I take the thirty cents, he will have nothing to eat tonight, and if I don't take it I will hurt his feelings. So I put out my hands and took the money. I have never seen such joy on anybody's face as I saw on the face of that beggar at the thought that he too could give to Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa went on: "It was a big sacrifice for that poor man, who had sat in the sun the whole day and received only thirty cents. Thirty cents is such a small amount and I can get nothing with it, but as he gave it up and I took it, it became like thousands because it was given with so much love. God looks not at the greatness of the work, but at the love with which it is performed."
Flor McCarthy in 'New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies'

The God of small things
In a certain art gallery a small picture was hanging in the hallway, close to the main door. Most visitors passed by with scarcely a glance in its direction, as they hurried on to the paintings which made the museum a Mecca for art lovers. The curator of the museum was very disappointed. He thought very highly of the little painting. So he decided to carry out a small experiment. One night he took the picture and hung it in a crooked manner. And what happened? Next day one out of two visitors stopped to look at it. The following night the curator decided to take his experiment one step further. He removed the painting altogether, leaving only the empty frame hanging there. And what happened? Everybody without exception stopped before the empty frame. And several went to the curator and asked. 'What happened to the lovely little painting that used to hang there?" - Do we notice the small things in daily life?
Flor McCarthy in 'New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies'

Giving from your need!

There was a vixen who had three cubs. On one occasion she fell sick and so she had to send the cubs one night to search for food. She told them to split up and go in different directions. The first cub was strong but very lazy, he chose the easiest route. He set off eastwards across flat land and found himself in a field stirring with rabbits. He killed one and ate it, then killed another and made off home with it. He was home in half an hour without a scratch on him. Seeing the rabbit his mother exclaimed, "What a fine rabbit you've brought back. Well done!" The second cub was clever, he headed westwards across rolling fields. Seeing the lights of a farm house he approached it, finding a hole in the fence he entered and killed two geese and dragged them away. When at a safe distance he ate half of one, the other half he buried, determined to come back the next day to finish it. He was home in half an hour with the other goose, having taken care to wash the blood off himself in a stream. "Well done!" his mother said. "What a splendid goose you've brought back." The third cub was weak and sickly but he had no other choice than to go northwards into hilly country. Here the farm houses were few but well guarded. As he passed one of the dogs tore his face through the wire and an angry farmer shot at him narrowly missing him. The night went quickly, there was nothing to do but to head home. On the way home he managed to catch a sparrow. Though he was ready to collapse from exhaustion and hunger, he decided to take it home to his mother. He got back home covered with mud, cuts and bruises. On seeing him his mother asked, "What kept you?" "I ran into trouble" he answered feebly. "And what have you brought home? With that the cub produced the sparrow. The two other cubs burst out laughing, ridiculing him. "Take it away from here and get out of my sight. Obviously I wasted my time feeding and caring for you" said his mother. -In one sense the mother was right. Judged by results the little cub had come a long way behind the other two. But in another sense the mother couldn't have been more wrong. Judged by the effort made and the spirit shown, the little cub was way ahead of the others. The little cub reminds us of the widow in today's Gospel. We live in a world in which results are the only thing that matters. Prizes and certificates are given for results, never for efforts. But Jesus has a different yardstick. For him it is not the size of the offering that counts, but the cost of it. In other words, it's not the result that counts, but the effort made and the spirit shown.
Flor McCarthy in 'New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies'

Someone to divide with
At the turn of the century, a man wrote in his diary the story of a young newsboy he met on a street near his home in London. It was well known in the neighbourhood that the boy was an orphan. All attempts to place the boy in either an institution or a foster home were thwarted, because the boy refused each offer of help and ran away when attempts were made to confine him. "I can take care o' myself jest fine, thank ye!" he would say to kindly old ladies who questioned whether he'd had his porridge that day. Indeed, he never looked hungry and his persistence at selling papers, load after load, gave the impression he spoke the truth. But the streets are a lonely place for a child to live, and the man's diary reflects a conversation he had with the child about his living arrangements. As he stopped to buy his paper one day, the man bought a little extra time by fishing around in his pocket for coins and asked the boy where he lived. He replied that he lived in a little cabin in an impoverished district of the city near the river bank. This was something of a surprise to the man. With more interest, he inquired, "well, who lives with you?" The boy answered, "Only Jim. Jim is crippled and can't do no work. He's my Pal." Now clearly astounded that the child appeared to be supporting not only himself but also someone who was unable to contribute any income the man noted," you'd be better off without him?" The answer came with not a little scorn- a sermon in a nutshell: "No sir, I couldn't spare Jim. I wouldn't have nobody to go home to. An' say, mister, I wouldn't want to live and work with nobody to divide with, would you?"
Alice Gray in 'Stories for the Heart'

I had a college student who was a victim of cerebral palsy. He was able to walk, but with great difficulty as his legs and arms would fly in all directions, out of control of the motor impulses which make walking a normally simple task. His speech was slurred, slow and agonizing, demanding great concentration on the part of the listener to understand. There was nothing wrong with his mind, however, and his sparkling personality and spontaneous smile were an inspiration to his classmates and to all who encountered him. One day he came to me vexed by a problem and asked me to pray for him. In the course of the prayer, I said something routine, with words like, "Oh, God, please help this man as he wrestles with his problem." When I opened my eyes the student was quietly weeping. I asked him what was wrong and he stammered his reply, "You called me a man -no one has ever called me a man before."
R.C. Sproul from 'The Hunger for Significance'

From the

1. You Never Missed It

A priest once asked one of his parishioners to serve as financial chairman of his parish. The man, manager of a grain elevator, agreed on two conditions: no report would be due for a year, and no one would ask any questions during the year. At the end of the year he made his report. He had paid off the church debt of $200,000. He had redecorated the church. He had sent money to missions. He had $5,000 in the bank. Needless to say, everyone wanted to know how. The man quietly explained, "You people bring your grain to my elevator. As you did business with me, I simply withheld 10 percent and gave it to the church. You never missed it."  

David E. Leininger, The View from Jesus' Pew

2. Giving Till It Hurts

Don't give till it hurts. Give till it helps. The story is told of a very wealthy man who had never been known for his generosity to the church. The church was involved in a big financial program and they resolved to pay him a visit. When the committee met with the man one afternoon, they said that in view of his considerable resources they were sure that he would like to make a substantial contribution to this program.

"I see," he said, "so you have it all figured out have you? In the course of your investigation did you discover that I have a widowed mother who has no other means of support but me?" No, they responded, they did not know that. "Did you know that I have a sister who was left by a drunken husband with five children and no means to provide for them?" No, they said, we did not know that either. "Well, sir, did you know also that I have a brother who is handicapped due to an automobile accident and can never work another day to support his wife and family?" 

Embarrassingly, they responded, no sir, we did not know that either. "Well," he thundered triumphantly, "I've never given any of them a cent so why should I give anything to you?"

Like that man, most of us never give till it hurts or helps. It is interesting to me that people who tithe in the church never speak of it as hurting. My wife and I tithe and it has not made life painful for us in the least. We started discussing some days ago what our pledge to the church for next year would be and how we could increase it. That doesn't sound like it hurts does it? It is the grudging giver, who is the one who always registers the complaint: At that church all they talk about is money." So let us get off of this notion of give till it hurts so that we affirm we give till it helps.

3. Humor: Now That I Have Your Undivided Attention

 A businessman who needed millions of dollars to clinch an important deal went to the temple to pray for the money. By chance he sat next to a man who was praying for $100 to pay an urgent debt.  

The businessman took out his wallet and pressed $100 into the other man's hand. Overjoyed, the man got up and left the temple. The businessman then closed his eyes and prayed: "And now, Lord, that I have your undivided attention . . ."

 Traditional. Told by Billy Strayhorn
4. The Widow's Mite for $39.95 

An advertisement I ran across read: "Now you too can own a Genuine Coin From The Time of Jesus: The Widow's Mite. It's a minor miracle that this coin has survived and now people of faith can study, cherish, and protect it for future generations. It's yet another miracle that they're so affordable."

Then, the ad goes on to quote the Scripture we just heard, "While our limited supplies last, you may order the 2,000 year old Widow's Mite for only $39.95 plus shipping and handling. Remember this is the genuine coin mentioned in the Holy Bible and it makes a perfect gift for your child, grandchild, or favorite clergyman."

The advertisement makes it sound like your buying the actual coin the widow dropped into the receptacle. Of course, you are not. It doesn't exist. Harder still is to purchase the woman's attitude of generosity, which is of greater value in today's market. 

Brett Blair

5. It's How You Give

Abraham Lincoln, was once hired by a man to sue someone else because they owed him $2.50. Not a large amount, but in the l860's it was. Lincoln didn't want to take the case but his client insisted. So Abe asked for a $l0.00 retainer fee up front. His client handed him the $l0. Lincoln then gave the man who owed $2.50 half of the ten. The man promptly paid his debt and everyone went home happy. It's not what you give, it is HOW you give. God wants us to give of ourselves joyfully without expecting anything in return. 

Keith Wagner

6. I Have a Dollar 

The Junior Sunday School Teacher asked her eight eager children if they would give $1,000,000 to the missionaries. "YES!" they all screamed!! "Would you give $1,000?" Again they shouted, "YES!" "How about $100?" "Oh, YES we would!" they all agreed!! "Would you give just a dollar to the missionaries?" she asked. The boys exclaimed "YES!" just as before except for Johnny. "Johnny," the teacher said as she noticed the boy clutching his pocket, "why didn't you say 'YES' this time?" "Well," he stammered, "I HAVE a dollar." 

The danger of pride is that it feeds on goodness.
7. A Symbol of Hope 

Ruele Howe tells about growing up with his parents in the country. When he was 15 years old, the house caught on fire. They escaped with only the clothes on their backs. There were no close neighbors to help so he and his father walked to a distant village to get supplies. As they returned they saw something that stayed with Ruele Howe all those years after. Beside the charred remains of what had been their house, his mother had laid out lunch on a log. She had placed a tin can filled with wildflowers on the log. It was a symbol of hope in the midst of tragedy.

This is the Christian faith, isn't it? She didn't try to cover up the disaster with flowers, but in the midst of that gloomy scene she had placed a symbol of hope.

These two coins that the widow placed in the temple treasury were her wildflowers. This was her symbol, her way of saying I know God will provide.

King Duncan
8. Who Is Important? 

It's easy to become confused about who's important in our society. We are encouraged to think of celebrities as most important. Television shows are devoted to their lives, and magazines and newspapers keep us informed of their every move. The movers and the shakers, too, are touted as important. Imagine how powerful the chairman of the Federal Reserve is! With a single sentence in a speech he can send the stock market plummeting. These are the people we are taught to regard as important.  

In the meantime many of our elderly waste away in nursing homes, forgotten even by their families. They don't make the news, aren't featured in magazines and newspapers, and are regarded simply as society's "throw-always." Thankfully widows today do not have the meager social status they had in Jesus' time. However, it is not hard to find contemporary parallels to the poor widow of this story. Just consider the homeless people in our communities. 

Robert Kysar
9. Cordially Yours 

I'm reminded of the story of the young soldier who was overseas. He was writing his girlfriend. He wanted to send her a telegram because he thought that would make more of an impression. So he gave the telegraph operator a message to send. The message was this: "I love you. I love you. I love you. John."

The telegraph operator said, "Son, for the same amount of money you can send one more word." So he amended his message and it read like this: "I love you. I love you. I love you. Cordially, John."

Many of us profess our love for God, "I love you, I love you, I love you," but when push comes to shove our devotion is more like "cordially" than it is love.
This widow put her money where her heart was. She gave all she had. And Jesus praised her. 

King Duncan
From Fr. Tony Kadavil:

10. Mother Teresa’s mite:  

Consider David Porter's comment on Mother Teresa: "She was born as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (AG-nes GOHN-jah BOY-yah-jee-oo), to Albanian parents in Yugoslavia. She went to India in 1929 as a member of the Loreto Order of nuns, after learning English in their Motherhouse in Dublin Ireland.  There she taught for many years and became principal of the school.  In 1946, she received her 'call within a call' to work with the poorest of the poor.  By 1948, she had received permission to leave the Loreto order and had trained in the nursing skills she would need to carry out her calling.  She prayed, "Oh God, if I cannot help these people in their poverty and their suffering, let me at least die with them, close to them, so that I can show them your love" [Mother Teresa: The Early Years, 67;  cited by Caroline J. Simon, "The Media and Mother Teresa," Perspectives, 12 (March, 1997), 3.]  Simon notes: "From this simple beginning, the Missionaries of Charity have grown to include 4,500 Sisters and Brothers, 755 homes for the children, the sick, the destitute and the dying and 1,369 medical clinics that serve 120,000 worldwide."  Mother Teresa's mite has might, and it's the ever-growing might of love in action.

11. A widow’s mite in the life of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.

By birth and marriage, Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton was linked to the first families of New York and enjoyed the fruits of living in high society.  Reared a staunch Episcopalian by her mother and stepmother, she learned the value of prayer, Scripture reading and a nightly examination of conscience.  At 19, Elizabeth was the belle of New York.  She married a handsome, wealthy businessman, William Magee Seton.  They had five children before his business failed, and William died of tuberculosis.  At 30, Elizabeth found herself widowed and penniless, with five small children to support.  While in Italy with her dying husband, Elizabeth had witnessed the Catholic Church in action, through the lives, beliefs and behavior of family friends.  Three basic elements in Catholicism led her to become a Catholic in March, 1805: a belief in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, a devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary as Mother of God, and a conviction that the Catholic Church traced its origin and priesthood in a direct line back to the apostles and to Christ.  When Elizabeth returned to the U. S., many of her family and friends rejected her because she had become a Catholic. To support her children, she opened a school in Baltimore with the cooperation of some of her friends.  From the beginning, her group was organized along the lines of the religious community which would only be founded officially in 1809.  Mother Seton became one of the keystones of the American Catholic Church.  She founded the first American religious community for women, the Sisters of Charity.  She opened the first American parish school and established the first American Catholic orphanage. All this she did in the span of 46 years while rearing her five children.  She died on January 4, 1821, and was buried in Emmitsburg, Maryland.  In 1963, Mother Seton was beatified, the first American-born citizen to receive this honor.  She was canonized in 1975.  Elizabeth Ann Seton was a real widow who offered her mite to God without reservation as the poor widow in today’s gospel did (Adapted from St. Anthony’s Messenger). 

12. Fanny Epps' mite has might of love:   

Mrs. Epps likes the time she spends with children. So she enjoys her time as a volunteer at the Norge Elementary School in Williamsburg, Virginia. There, she works with students who have mental and physical disabilities. Her day begins long before she goes on duty at 7 a.m. She has to catch a bus to get to the school. When she gets there, she greets Drew who has difficulty walking. Another one of her favorites has Down syndrome. He sits beside her, smiling. She turns on the tape recorder and plays "Jingle Bell Rock," while her students sing and clap enthusiastically. It takes a lot of energy to work all morning, five days a week, with these children. Oh, did I mention that Mrs. Epps is 99 years old? Wasted time, twisted values? "I don't want to act dead while I'm still alive," she says. Fanny Epps' mite has might, and it's the might of love!
13. Chicken and Pig: 

You know the old joke about the chicken and the pig that saw the church sign saying "Help feed the hungry."  The chicken said "That's a good idea!  Let's help by putting in our 'widow’s mite.'  Let's give ham and eggs."  The pig said "That's easy for you to say, but for me it's a total commitment!"

14. Church Collection 

A six-year-old boy, home from his first day at church, was asked what he thought of the Holy Mass. "It was OK," he replied, "but I think it was unfair that the pastor at the altar did all the work, and then a bunch of other people came around and took away all the money." Amen to that small lad's insight! 

15. The Bank or the Church 

A colleague once told how "a certain woman phoned her personal banker to arrange for the disposal of a $1,000 bond. The voice on the phone asked for clarification, "Is the bond for conversion or redemption?'' The confused woman paused and then inquired, "Am I talking to the bank or the church?''
From the Connections:

Preaching in the Jerusalem temple days before the Last Supper and his crucifixion, Jesus indicts the scribes for their lavish but empty show of faith.  The scribes, in their haughty and arrogant attitude, are the antithesis of what Jesus wants his disciples to be.
In Jesus’ time, scribes, as the accepted experts of the Law, could serve as trustees of a widow’s estate.  As their fee, they took a portion of the estate.  Obviously, scribes with a reputation for piety were often entrusted with this role.  With their ability to manipulate the interpretations of the Law to their advantage, the system was rife with abuse.
Throughout Scripture, widows were portrayed as the supreme examples of the destitute and powerless (today’s first reading from the 1 Kings is an example).  Jesus again makes a considerable impact on his hearers, then, by lifting up a widow who has nothing as an example of faithful generosity.  Only that which is given not from our abundance but from our own need and poverty -- and given totally, completely, humbly and joyfully -- is a gift fitting for God.

The kingdom of God is realized only in our embracing Christ's spirit of servanthood – servanthood that finds fulfillment and satisfaction in the love, compassion and kindness we can extend to others, that enables us to place the common good and the needs of others above our own wants and narrow interests.
Greatness in the reign of God is not measured by what is in our portfolios, bank accounts or resumes, but by the love in our hearts that directs the use and sharing of those gifts.
The faithful disciple honors the dignity of the servant above the power of the rich, canonizes humility over celebrity and is inspired by the total generosity of the widow rather than the empty gestures of the scribe.
The widow's “reckless” giving from her poverty rather than from her abundance challenges our concept of carefully planned, tax deductible, convenient and painless giving.  Jesus’ concept of charity is centered in the kind of total and unconditional love that makes such sacrificial giving a joy.

The ‘honor roll of donors
It comes every year, just before taxes must be filed: the annual issue of your college’s alumni magazine with the list of donors to the institution’s annual fund.  Arts groups, social service agencies and foundations also publish such lists under various titles, such as “annual donor report” or “honor roll of donors.” 
The donors are broken down by class year and level of giving.   And you look.  The fundraisers and development officers know you look.  That’s why they compile the list and send it to everyone.  You look to see how your gift measures up to those of your classmates.  You look to see who’s doing well — and who’s not — and where you place among them.  You look out of curiosity, pride and self-satisfaction.
Such donor lists are about numbers.  They tell us nothing about dedication, commitment and values.  The alum who writes the $5,000-check may not give his gift a second thought until he or she itemizes the donation on their tax return — but the alum struggling with the tuition payments for his or her three children manages to give $100 because they feel a deep sense of gratitude for the education they received.
The symphony’s largest donors are the movers and shakers in town, and supporting the arts is just good business — but the retired school teacher’s gift of $50 is her way of being part of something good and important in her community.
The real “honor” in giving is not the amount but what compels us to give in the first place.
In exalting the gift of the poor widow, Jesus wants us to realize that, in the economy of God, numbers are not the true value of giving.  It is what we give from our want, not from our extra, that speaks of what we truly value, what good we truly want to accomplish, what we want our lives and world to be.  In the Gospel scheme of things, it is not the measure of the gift but the measure of the love, selflessness and commitment that directs the gift that is great before God.  For Christ calls us not to seek greater things or talents to astound the world but for greater love and selflessness with which to enrich the world
Sudha Murthy, chairperson, Infosys Foundation is known for her ability to glean interesting stories from the lives of ordinary people. The following is extracted from her latest collection, 'Bombay to Bangalore':
It was the beginning of summer. As I boarded the Udyan Express at Gulbarga, I saw that the 2nd class reserved compartment was jam-packed with people. I sat down and was pushed to the corner of the berth. The ticket collector came in and started checking people's tickets. Suddenly, he looked in my direction and asked, what about your ticket? 'I have already shown my ticket to you', I said.
'Not you madam; the girl hiding below your berth'. I realized that someone was sitting under my berth. When the TC (Ticket Collector) yelled at her, the girl came out of hiding. She was thin, scared and looked like she had been crying profusely. She must have been about 13 or 14 yrs old. The TC started forcibly pulling her out from the compartment. 

Suddenly, I had a strange feeling. 'Sir, I will pay for her ticket', I told the TC. He looked at me and said, 'Madam, if you give her 10 rupees, she will be much happier with that than with the ticket.' I didn't listen to him but bought her a ticket to the last destination, Bangalore, so that the girl could get down wherever she wanted. Slowly, she started talking. Her name was Chitra. She lived in a village near Bidar. Her father was a coolie and she had lost her mother at birth. Her father who had remarried, died a few months ago. Since her step mother started ill treating her, she left home in search of a better future.

By this time the train had reached Bangalore. I got down from the train and then I saw Chitra watching me with sad eyes. I took compassion on her and took her to our friend Ram's place. Ram managed shelter homes for boys and girl which were supported by Infosys. Chitra had found a home and new direction in her life. I always enquired about her well-being over the phone. Her progress was good and I wanted to sponsor her college studies. But she said, ' No, Akka. I would like to do diploma in computer science so that I can immediately get a job.'  She came out with flying colours in her diploma and obtained a job in a software company.  With her first salary, she bought me a saree and a box of sweets.

One day, when I was in Delhi, she called me up to say that her company is sending her to the USA. She wanted to take my blessings but I was here in Delhi. Years passed. Chitra was doing very well and was sending me e-mails regularly. Years later, I was in San Francisco attending the 'Kannada Koota', organized by the Kannada speaking families of California. I was staying in the same hotel where the Kannada meet was taking place. When I checked out of the hotel room and went to the reception to settle the bills, the receptionist said, 'Ma'am, you don't have to pay. The lady over there has already paid your bill.'  I turned around and found Chitra there, standing with a young man. She was looking very pretty in short hair. Her eyes were beaming with happiness. She hugged me and touched my feet. I was overwhelmed with joy. I was very happy to see the way things had turned out for Chitra. But I came back to my original question; 'Chitra, why did you pay my hotel bill?' Suddenly sobbing, she hugged me and said: 'Because you paid for my ticket from Bombay to Bangalore!