Mark 12:38-44
She Gave All She Had by Rev. Jack Peterson
Reprinted by permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"

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Mark wrote to explain Christ
to the new Gentile converts.

In the course of his teaching, Jesus said to the crowds, "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 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 was a careful observer of human beings.  In the Gospel today, He uses a real life example to teach us how He defines generosity.  The event demonstrates that nothing slips by God's keen eye and that no one makes a generous gift of themselves that goes unnoticed.  Jesus found a seat near the temple treasury and watched as people made their offerings.  In contrast to the rich who were making large donations, a poor widow put in a few coins, Jesus teaches that she "put in more than all the other contributors."

Clearly, God measures generosity differently than most.  The amount was not the measure. "For they all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood."  She was generous because she did not give from her surplus but from what she needed to live on.  She gave it all.  She gave her very self to God.

Her generosity is hard to imitate.  It demands a tremendous level of trust in God's divine providence.  It reflects a willingness to surrender my life to God.  It suggests a faith-filled decision that God has been so generous to me that I must make a fitting, sacrificial gift to him in return.  A total gift of self is the response that love makes.

I sat down in the chapel at Marymount University and three young people came to my mind.  One recent graduate joined a lay missionary group and is serving in her first year of a three-year commitment to teach in a Catholic school in Camaroon.  One young man is seriously spending this semester trying to surrender his will to God and discern if God is calling him to be a priest.  Another young woman spent an extravagant amount of time, energy and love organizing a large university-wide service event that provided a wonderful afternoon of entertainment and joy to about 100 disadvantaged kids from the Arlington area.  These young people are giving their "few cents" to Christ.

God wants every follower to be generous.  His definition of generosity applies to the married man, the single woman, the priest and the consecrated virgin.  In the end, the only fitting response to the greatness of God is to make a total gift of ourselves to him out of love.  Anything less falls short of generosity.  Jesus is not as concerned about the amount we give but the love with which we give it. "She contributed all she had, her whole livelihood."

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