Widows and orphans, whether in Zaraphath or Jerusalem, their fate was pretty much the same. They had no family which was the only support network at the time of Jesus. There was no Social Security or safety net except the family.
At the time of Jesus, very much like today, it is the poor who are taken advantage of by the rich and those in positions of power. Jesus cries out, “Beware! Beware of those who use their public or religious status to promote themselves in positions of power, preying on the powerless of society. They will be harshly judged.”
Is important to link today’s gospel with Jesus’ teaching last week. “The first and most important commandment is this: “Hear O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. And the second is this: you shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Only a day or two before, Jesus entered triumphantly into Jerusalem and cleansed the temple, overturning the tables of the money changers. This is the last time that Jesus will be in the temple before his arrest, trial, crucifixion and death. For Mark, this poor widow’s contribution sums up the heart of a true disciple.
It is the quality of her sacrifice, rather than the size of her gift that forms the basis of Jesus teaching. Jesus wanted his disciples to see what he saw.
The widow’s generosity, loving the Lord with all her strength, with all she had, stands in stark contrast to the deceptive, pretentious, and self-serving actions of the scribes. The widow put all her effort and resources into a sacrificial gift of true generosity, while the scribes put their efforts and resources into self-promotion for the sake of selfish self-gain.
Jesus does not make a qualitative comment on the widow’s action, but only an observation of the contrast between the faith that leads to self-giving as opposed to a faith that leads to self-promotion and the proclamation of a false prosperity gospel.
In light of the Word of God this morning, I invite you to listen to the witness of one of our school families as they reflect upon stewardship as a disciple’s response, as a way of life. Please receive their witness as a gracious gift.
Would everyone please pick up this stewardship pamphlet? On the front cover you will see the six elements of discipleship for Saint Michael Parish. For the past six weeks, we have focused on a different element each week so as to grow in our discipleship, our following Jesus Christ.
Each of these elements, grow, worship, serve, give, connect and share are foundational to our life and ministry at Saint Michael parish.
Please open the pamphlet and look at this section with the picture of the heart. (Hold up) Thank you. These four sections are meant to help us to be authentic stewards.
Pray: that I really prayed about my giving until I received an answer from God?
Ask: will this be truly sacrificial for my family? What will I give up for my Lord who gave everything for me?
Do: am I willing to be obedient to God?
Receive: does my heart respond with joy to my pledge for this coming year?
Each November we are invited to take a step in renewing our stewardship pledge to our parish. Therefore I ask that each household or each single adult, to please take time to fill out the response card.
Then, using the giving table calculate your present giving and then, if possible take a step toward giving the biblical tithe of 10% of your household income, 6% for Saint Michael Parish and 4% for other charities such as the annual Catholic appeal, St. Vincent de Paul, the Faith-raising Campaign, etc.
Then kindly write in your pledge amount. We encourage you to consider using electronic giving either through direct deposit or debit/credit card. Simply visit our website or our parish app to do so, but please return this commitment card so your pledge will be correctly recorded.
Your response today helps us plan our ministries for the future. Your generosity has enabled us to grow and deepen our ministries in service to our families and to those who are in need.
Then simply tear off the pledge card, and place it in the offertory basket.
Let us accept Jesus’ challenge today to give from the depths of our heart with gratitude and joy. Thank you.