32nd Sunday of Year B

COMMENTARYAGAPE BIBLE STUDYSUNDAY WEBSITELIFE APPLICATIONSCATENA AUREA

Commentary Excerpts (PDF)

SOURCE: Bible study program at St. Charles Borromeo (Picayune, MS) courtesy of Military Archdiocese.
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OUR SUNDAY VISITOR

Key Points to the Readings

FIRST READING

1 Kings 17:10-16

The jar of flour shall not go empty.

  • In Jewish law there are many commands concerning care for widows, because the widow in Israel had no real means of economic independence.
  • In today’s reading, Elijah promises the widow that neither she nor her son will starve.
  • The woman, a non-Israelite, believes the word of the Israelite prophet.
SOURCES: Content adapted from Our Sunday Visitor.  The clipart is from the archive of Father Richard Lonsdale © 2000 which may be freely reproduced in any non-profit publication.

SECOND READING

Hebrews 9:24-28

Christ takes away our sins.

  • The reading from the Letter to the Hebrews stresses that Jesus gave his life as a sacrifice for all.
  • Jesus Christ gave his life for all people.
  • His perfect gift takes away sins once for all.
SOURCES: Content adapted from Our Sunday Visitor.  The clipart is from the archive of Father Richard Lonsdale © 2000 which may be freely reproduced in any non-profit publication.

GOSPEL

Mark 12:38-44

She gave from her want.

  • In today’s Gospel, Jesus presents a poor widow as an example of a truly faithful person in Judaism.
  • She is willing to contribute what she has and to lay down her life for the sake of the leaders in the community.
  • Jesus judges the gift of the woman as the most valuable of all.
SOURCES: Content adapted from Our Sunday Visitor.  The clipart is from the archive of Father Richard Lonsdale © 2000 which may be freely reproduced in any non-profit publication.

DR. KIERAN J. O’MAHONY, OSA

A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins

Thought for the Day

Money can easily distort our attitudes and values. It is tempting to react more warmly to those who give more generously—we all do it. It is easy to overlook the motive behind giving and focus, not on the giver, but on the gift. We do have the expression that it’s the thought that counts. Usually, though, such proverbial wisdom is employed to help me/us be consoled when some expectation was not realised. Thus, this apparently consolatory thought acknowledges the tendency to the opposite, the attraction to the gift as such!! The Lord, however, reads our hearts.

SOURCE: HEARERS OF THE WORD
DR. BRANT PITRE
READ THE TRANSCRIPT

Jesus then uses her as an example. He calls his disciples and he says, “Truly, I say to you, this widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For they contributed out of there abundance; but she out of her poverty put in everything she had, her whole living.” Alright, so what’s going on here? Well, what is Jesus saying?

Basically this is this widow’s last two coins, this is all she has. She’s put in the last of her money. What has she chosen to do with the last of her money? She’s chosen to make an offering to God, right, and to the Temple. Now does the Temple need her two last coins? Does the Temple need her quadrans, her penny? No, the Temple was covered in gold, they had lots of priests, it was extremely wealthy. It was basically the economic center of Jerusalem. Think about this, in the First Century A.D. you didn’t have banks, so where the treasury was at was kind of the economic center of the city. So it was the cultic center, sacrificial center, religious center, but also the economy was revolved around the Temple. So it has all the money it could possibly need, but this woman takes her money and she makes an offering to God.

Now was it a whole burnt offering? Was it money for some gold for the Temple? Was it money for a free will offering? We don’t know. Was she paying her tithe for the year? We don’t know, but what we do know is that it’s all that she had. Jesus takes that moment and he uses it to teach the apostles that although the rich people are putting quantitatively more money than she did, she qualitatively far exceeded them with her donation because she gave all that she had. She gave the last of her living to God and to his sacrifices and to the Temple.

So it’s a beautiful passage, a really powerful passage contrasting the wealth and prestige and esteem and external desires to be praised of the scribes with the interior charity, generosity, and love for God of this poor widow, who, by the way, in a First Century society, if she’s a widow who is totally on her own, she could through this act basically put herself into utter destitution and utter poverty. She may or may not have family to even care for her at this point, and that seems to be the case if this is all that she has.

So Jesus, in other words, is trying to teach us, trying to teach the disciples, about what offerings to God, what a true offering to God is. It’s the one where we give everything. If you think of the previous Sunday’s readings, right, to love the Lord your God with all your soul means to love him with your whole life, without remainder, leaving nothing over…

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Niell Donavan

Sermon Writer

FIRST READING

1 KINGS 17:8-16. ARISE, GO TO ZAREPHATH

SECOND READING

THE IMMEDIATE CONTEXT

HEBREWS 9:24-26a.   NO HOLY PLACE MADE WITH HANDS

HEBREWS 9:26b-28.  HE PUT AWAY SIN BY SACRIFICING HIMSELF

GOSPEL

MARK 12:38-40. BEWARE OF THE SCRIBES

MARK 12:41-44. SHE GAVE ALL THAT SHE HAD

Richard Niell Donavan, a Disciples of Christ clergyman, published SermonWriter from 1997 until his death in 2020. His wife Dale has graciously kept his website online. A subscription is no longer required.

The Art of Self-Giving

HIDE/SHOW OVERVIEW

The First Reading and the Gospel Reading address the subject of giving. The focus of both teachings is that it is not what you give but why you give. All giving should be motivated from the heart in genuine self-giving without any concern for a reward. In both readings, a poor Gentile widow (the First Reading) and a poor Jewish widow (the Gospel Reading) made offerings worth very little materially. However, these women were precious to God because they offered gifts from their meager resources that represented a generous heart.

In the Responsorial Psalm, we hear the contrast between the fate of the righteous and the wicked. It recalls Jesus’s Sermon on the Plain when He blessed the poor and promised judgment against the rich when they failed to use their blessings of material wealth to help the poor and instead ignored the plight of the humble and dispossessed (Lk 6:20-26). Our psalm reading should also remind us of Jesus’s description of the Last Judgment in Matthew 25:31-46. Those who purposely choose throughout their lives to ignore the command to be self-giving to those in need will face God’s divine judgment and find themselves deprived of entrance into the Promised Land of Heaven.

In the Second Reading, the inspired writer focuses on God’s spiritual representative, the Jewish High Priest, and his service in the Jerusalem Temple. At the Temple, he accepted the people’s sacrificial gifts and continually offered the blood of sacrificial victims to atone for their sins and to provide for the people’s sanctification to restore their relationship with the Lord. The inspired writer compares the Old Covenant anointed Jewish high priest and his service to Jesus’s service as the anointed Son of God. The Jewish high priests served in the earthly Temple, but Jesus serves as the New Covenant High Priest, presiding in the heavenly Temple. In His role as the eternal High Priest, Jesus prays continually for the covenant faithful in every generation and presents the ongoing single sacrifice of Himself that He gave for the expiation of sins for all humanity on the altar of the Cross.

In the Gospel Reading, Jesus contrasts a poor widow with the hypocritical, pretentious, and money-loving scribes who “devour the houses of widows.” Instead, Jesus directs His disciples’ attention to a poor widow who does not place material wealth before her duty to God. Instead, trusting God with a faithful and generous heart, she gives what little she has to the Temple’s donation box to support the poor. The generous self-giving of her contribution counted more with God because she gave out of her poverty; therefore, her gift was greater than the large donations others gave out of substantial wealth.

In the Liturgy of the Mass, as Christ’s representative, the priest offers Jesus’s sacrifice and His prayer for us in the Eucharistic celebration. We, in return, receive His gift as we pray: “We offer You in thanksgiving for this holy and living sacrifice. May He [Christ] make us an everlasting gift to you” (Eucharistic Prayer III).

As those who profess belief in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we must offer acts of charity in genuine self-giving, like the widows in the First and Gospel Readings. From our resources, no matter how meager, we give to the poor, and we continue Jesus’s earthly ministry by supporting His Kingdom of the Church. We also make every Eucharistic celebration an act of genuine self-giving through the offering of ourselves united to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, as we receive the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. The sacred meal of the Eucharist is God’s gift to us that He promises, like the widow’s jar of flour and jug of oil in the First Reading, will never “run out” until the Lord Jesus returns. And in our self-giving, we should joyfully sing with our mouths and our hearts the words from today’s Psalm: “Praise the Lord my soul.”

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study. Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.

FIRST READING

AGAPE STUDY

The Generous Gentile Widow of Zarephath

10 In those days, Elijah the prophet went to Zarephath.  As he arrived at the entrance of the city, a widow was gathering sticks there; he called out to her, “Please bring me a small cupful of water to drink.” 11 She left to get it, and he called out after her, “Please bring along a bit of bread.” 12 She answered, “As the LORD, your God, lives, I have nothing baked; there is only a handful of flour in my jar and a little oil in my jug. Just now, I was collecting a couple of sticks to go in and prepare something for myself and my son; when we have eaten it, we shall die.” 13 Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid. Go and do as you propose. But first, make me a little cake and bring it to me. Then you can prepare something for yourself and your son. 14 For the LORD, the God of Israel, says, ‘The jar of flour shall not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, until the day when the LORD sends rain upon the earth.'” 15 She left and did as Elijah had said. She was able to eat for a year, and he and her son as well; 16 the jar of flour did not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, as the LORD had foretold through Elijah.

The entire region of the Levant was devastated by drought and resulting famine that the prophet Elijah foretold at God’s command as a judgment against the worship of the false Canaanite and Phoenician god, Baal (1 Kng 17:1). To protect His prophet from the wrath of King Ahab of Israel and his pagan wife Jezebel, God told Elijah to journey to a Mediterranean coastal city in the Phoenician territory to seek refuge with a widow (1 Kng 17:2-9). Elijah’s life was in danger from King Ahab and his Gentile wife, who promoted Baal worship. Yet, God commanded him to go into the very center of Baal worship to seek refuge among pagan Gentiles. God commanded Elijah to go to Zarephath in Sidonia, where He had moved the heart of a Gentile widow to give him food and lodging (1 Kng 17:9).


10 In those days, Elijah the prophet went to Zarephath.  As he arrived at the entrance of the city, a widow was gathering sticks there; he called out to her, “Please bring me a small cupful of water to drink.” 

The prophet Elijah saw a widow gathering sticks. Her activity was an indication of her poverty. Unless she had a grown son to support her, a widow was entirely on her own and lacked the means to support herself. It must have shocked the prophet that Yahweh told him to seek refuge in the home of a Gentile, Phoenician woman, but he obeyed without questioning the command.

Zarephath, a town on the Mediterranean coast, was located eight miles south of the prosperous Phoenician trading city of Sidon. Sidon was the birthplace of Jezebel, the daughter of the King of Sidon and wife of King Ahab of Israel. Elijah probably recognized the woman as a widow by her widow’s clothing that was typically worn long after the mourning period (Gen 38:14 and Jdt 8:5; 10:3; 16:8).  He knew that the woman didn’t have enough resources to sustain herself, much less him, but he understood that Yahweh’s words, “I have ordered a woman there to give you food,” to mean that a miracle was going to come from his association with the woman.

Elijah tested the woman in three ways:

  1. He asked her for water.
  2. He asked her to bring him a little bread.
  3. After she admitted that she and her son were starving, he asked her to bake him a cake of bread.

Elijah testing the woman to see if she was the one Yahweh chose by requesting water recalls the testing of another woman by Abraham’s servant in Genesis 24:10-20. The servant Abraham sent to find a bride for his son Isaac in the Aramaean homeland of Abraham’s extended family tested Rebekah’s generosity. He asked for water in Genesis 24:17 to see if she was the one Yahweh selected as a wife for Isaac. In the story of Elijah and the widow compared with Abraham’s servant and Rebekah, God’s servant discovered the right woman using the same tactic. Rebekah only underwent one test, but Elijah tested the widow three times. God blessed both women for their generous response to a traveler’s request.


12 She answered, “As the LORD, your God, lives, I have nothing baked; there is only a handful of flour in my jar and a little oil in my jug. Just now, I was collecting a couple of sticks to go in and prepare something for myself and my son; when we have eaten it, we shall die.”

The Gentile woman knew that Elijah was an Israelite who worshiped Yahweh. The dress and habits of Israelites who worshiped Yahweh made them stand out from other people in the region. For example, Israelites could not cut or shape their beards, as was the custom of Gentile men, and all Israelite men faithful to Yahweh wore an outer cloak with tassels at each of the four corners (Lev 19:27; Num 15:37-39; Dt 22:12; Mt 9:20; 23:5 and 1 Kng 19:13).

Elijah’s widow was a very patient woman. She was in desperate straits, Yahweh was not her God, yet she did as Elijah requested. The widow’s act of mercy and self-giving for the sake of a stranger counted toward her salvation both temporally and spiritually. As a reward, Elijah gave the woman a blessing in the name of Yahweh, telling her for the entire time until the end of the drought that her jar of oil would never run dry and her jug of meal would always be full (verse 14).


15 The woman went and did as Elijah told her, and they ate the food, she, himself, and her son. 16 The jar of meal was not spent nor the jug of oil emptied, just as the LORD [Yahweh] had foretold through Elijah.

God fulfilled Elijah’s prophecy. The woman and her son did not go hungry during the entire period of the drought because of the woman’s generosity to a stranger in need and because she cooperated in God’s plan for His prophet’s care. When we give as the widow gave in a self-giving sacrifice, we are also blessed, and the spiritual blessing is worth much more than the material gift. The Fathers of the Church saw the self-giving of the Gentile widow and the blessing God gave her as foreshadowing His blessing in welcoming the Gentiles into the New Covenant of Jesus Christ.

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study. Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY

 The Lord sees the needs of the Poor and Needy

Response: “Praise the Lord my soul.”  Or “Alleluia.”

Psalm 146 is the first psalm of the third group of Hallel (“praise God”) psalms that the Old Covenant faithful recited in the Tamid morning daily Liturgy in the Jerusalem Temple. To learn more about the daily Liturgy of worship in the Jerusalem Temple, see the book, “Jesus and the Mystery of the Tamid Sacrifice.”

The psalmist announces that God meets the needs of the most vulnerable in society:

  1. He secures justice for the oppressed.
  2. He gives food to the hungry.
  3. He sets the unjustly imprisoned free.
  4. He gives sight to the blind.
  5. He lifts those who are down-trodden by life.
  6. He protects the stranger.
  7. He sustains the widow and orphan.
  8. He stands in the way of the wicked.

God does all these things through the self-giving works of the righteous who perform acts of charity in His name. These are the just ones who the Lord God loves throughout human history and in the covenant community of His Church.

In our Psalm passage, the Lord’s protection of the righteous recalls the description of the fate of the just in Psalm 1 (as opposed to the wicked) and the Book of Wisdom Chapter 3. It also recalls Jesus’ “Sermon on the Plain” in Luke 6:20-26.  In His sermon, Jesus blessed the poor and dispossessed, promising them God’s eternal blessings but eternal judgment for the rich who ignored their suffering and did not use their blessings of wealth to help them.  Psalm 146 should also remind us of Jesus’ description of the Last Judgment in Matthew 25:31-46.  Those who purposely choose throughout their lives to ignore the command to be self-giving to those in need of help will face God’s divine judgment and will find themselves deprived of entrance into the Promised Land of Heaven.

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study.Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.

SECOND READING

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY

Jesus, Our One Perfect Sacrifice

24 For Christ did not enter into a sanctuary made by hands, a copy of the true one, but heaven itself, that he might now appear before God on our behalf. 25 Not that he might offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters each year into the Sanctuary with blood that is not his own;26 if that were so, he would have had to suffer repeatedly from the foundation of the world.  But now, once for all, he has appeared at the end of the ages to take away sin by his sacrifice. 27 Just as it is appointed that human beings die once, and after this the judgment, 28 so also Christ, offered once to take away the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to take away sin but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.

Earthly things are not in themselves holy—they must be purified, which made the Old Covenant purification rites necessary. Heavenly things/creatures, however, are already pure. From the time of Adam and Eve’s fall from grace, the sacrificial blood of animals accompanied by confession and contrition became a cleansing and atoning symbol that foreshadowed Christ’s one perfect sacrifice. Thus, God established blood sacrifice as the means for expiating sin: Since the life of a living body is in its blood, I have made you put it on the altar, so that atonement may thereby be made for your own lives, because it is the blood, as the seat of life, that makes atonement (Lev 17:11).

However, unlike the Old Covenant High Priest who offered multiple communal animal sacrifices for the entire covenant people on the Day of Atonement (Lev 16; Num 29:7-11), Jesus, our High Priest, only offers His blood. His is the one perfect sacrifice that has the power to forgive sins through His flesh and blood. Thus, He fulfills what had only been a symbol in past ages but would forever serve as the cleansing and purifying act of expiation necessary for humanity’s salvation.


if that were so, he would have had to suffer repeatedly from the foundation of the world.   But now, once for all, he has appeared at the end of the ages to take away sin by his sacrifice.

What Jesus offers is one perfect but ongoing sacrifice. God selected Him before the foundation of the earth to offer His life in atonement for humanity’s sins (1 Pt 1:20-21).

In Hebrews 9:26-27, the inspired writer refers to the yearly sacrifices on the Feast of Atonement, known in Hebrew as Yom Kippur, “Day of Covering.” The blood sacrifice of animals “covered”  to sins of the covenant people in a communal reconciliation sacrifice. Sirach 50:5-24 describes the Jewish High Priest offering sacrifices for the atonement of the people’s sins on the Feast of Atonement:

How splendid he was as he appeared from the tent, as he came from within the veil!  Like a star shining among the clouds, like the full moon at the holy day season; like the sun shining upon the Temple, like the rainbow appearing in the cloudy sky; like the blossoms on the branches in springtime, like a lily on the banks of a stream; like the trees of Lebanon in summer, like the fire of incense at the sacrifice; like a vessel of beaten gold, studded with precious stones; lie a luxuriant olive tree thick with fruit, like cypress standing against the clouds; vested in his magnificent robes, and wearing his garments of splendor, as he ascended the glorious altar and lent majesty to the court of the Sanctuary (Sir 50:5-11).

In these verses, the people’s expression of thankfulness for the High Priest’s ministry, whose service brought atonement and restoration of communion with God, should pale in comparison with our expressions of gratitude for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ in His ministry as our High Priest, offering atonement for our sins in the heavenly Sanctuary!

The words “At the end of the ages” in Hebrews 9:26 signifies the Second Advent of Christ. It will be the end of the world as we know it, and the de-creation and regeneration that will occur at that eschatological event in the passing away of the old heaven and earth and the birth of a new creation (see Mt 24:37-44; Lk 17:26-27; 34-35; 1 Cor 15:23-28; 1 Thess 4:13-18; 1 Tim 2:3-4; 2 Pt 3:10-13; Rev 20:11- 21:2; and CCC# 1001-2).


27 Just as it is appointed that human beings die once, and after this the judgment, 28 so also Christ, offered once to take away the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to take away sin but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.

After death, the soul of every person experiences an individual judgment (see CCC# 1021-22).  This judgment eliminates any discussion of the theory of reincarnation for Christians (see CCC# 1013). For human life on earth, death is a one-time-only, unrepeatable act. The exceptions are in the case of Lazarus (raised to life by Jesus) and also others who were miraculously raised from death through the intervention of medical science (with the consent of God) to live and die again (these medical exceptions, however, are resuscitations, not resurrections).  The Preface of Christian Death I in the Roman Missal reads:

Lord, for your faithful people, life is changed, not ended. When the body of our earthly dwelling lies in death, we gain an everlasting dwelling place in heaven.

As death comes to most mortals as an unrepeatable act, so too Jesus’s bloody physical death on the altar of the Cross was a sacrifice offered once and for all time, achieving atonement and redemption for humanity as a whole.  All subsequent offerings of His one unique sacrifice are therefore unbloody, as in the sacrifice of the Mass (see CCC# 1330 and the document “Is the Eucharist a True Sacrifice?“).

In Hebrews 9:28, to take away the sins of many is a quote from the Book of Isaiah. Isaiah 53:12 reads,

Therefore I will give him his portion among the great, and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty, because he surrendered himself to death and was counted among the wicked; and he shall take away the sins of many, and win pardon for their offenses (bold emphasis added).

The Greek verb anaphero [an-af-er’-o] used in this phrase can mean either to “take away,” “take up,” or “to bear.” The inspired writer makes use of the double meaning of the verb to convey, by His atoning death on the Cross, that Jesus both bore our sins and took them away. St. John uses a similar wordplay in the Gospel of John 1:29

The word “many” in 9:28 has the Semitic meaning of “all” in the inclusive sense, as it also in Mark 14:24 in Jesus’s words at the Last Supper: He said to them,

“This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.”

The inspired writer uses the visual image of the High Priest disappearing into the Holy of Holies to offer sacrifice for the people on the Day of Atonement and then reappearing after God’s acceptance the sacrifice in the sign of the smoke rising to Heaven from the Altar of Incense. He compares the event to Jesus’s Ascension to the Father as the perfect sacrifice in the visible sign of the Glory Cloud, as the Apostles and disciples saw Him leave the earth to enter the heavenly Sanctuary (Acts 1:9), and His promised return in the Second Advent (Acts 1:9-11). For the Prophet Daniel’s vision of Jesus entering the heavenly Sanctuary, see Daniel 7:9-14 that is what happened after Jesus left the disciples on the Mount of Olives in Acts 1:9. Jesus quoted from Daniel’s vision in Daniel 7:13-14 at His trial before the Jewish Sanhedrin, after which the High Priest immediately condemned Him (Mt 26:64-66).

We have the assurance that Jesus will appear a second time, not to take away sin but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him (Heb 9:28)When Jesus returns (in what we call His “Second Advent” or “Second Coming”), He will complete the process of our salvation. Then, in a final act, God will end the present earthly existence and inaugurate a new Heaven and earth, uniting the holy family of God of all generations into one eternal Kingdom (2 Pt 3:10; Rev 20:1121:1-5).

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study. Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.

GOSPEL

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY

Denunciation of the Scribes and the Gift of the Poor Widow

38 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, 39 seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets.  40 They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext, recite lengthy prayers.  They will receive a very severe condemnation.” 41 He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury.  Many rich people put in large sums. 42 A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. 43 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. 44 For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.”

God the Son continues to “come against” the failed religious leadership in fulfillment of Ezekiel 34:1-25. Jesus’s condemnation of the scribes for their hypocrisy is similar to His judgment against the Pharisees and scribes in Mark 7:2-5. Widows were especially vulnerable if they didn’t have a living son to support them. Jesus accused the scribes, in their business dealings, of confiscating the homes of widows who were unable to support themselves and, at the same time, pretending piety in their prayers while demanding the positions of highest honor at social gatherings or in the Synagogues. Jesus proclaims that the judgment for their cruel acts against the poor will be severe (see Jesus’s judgment against the heartless rich in Lk 6:24-26).


Mark 12:41-44 ~ The Poor Widow’s Temple Donation

41 He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury.  Many rich people put in large sums.  42 A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.  43 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.  44 For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.”

Within the Temple complex was a treasury where people could donate to support the poor (Neh 10:38; Josephus, Jewish Wars, 6.5.2 [282]). The widow deposited two copper coins (lepta), the smallest value coins in circulation (Johnson, The Gospel of Luke, page 316). In the ancient world, all currency was in coins; therefore, when the wealthy threw in their contributions, the sound of their coins was considerable, while the poor widow’s two coins only made two small sounds as they fell into the box. She is one of the anawim, the poor and afflicted “lowly ones” mentioned in the Old Testament who find their solace in God alone (Is 29:19; 61:1; Zeph 2:3) and to whom Jesus promised justice and vindication in His Discourse on the Plain in Luke 6:20-26. Widows had no inheritance rights and had to rely on their children or male relatives or the charity of other members of the covenant family to take care of them as commanded by Mosiac Law (Ex 20:12; Lev 19:3; Dt 14:28-29; 24:19-21).

Jesus contrasts the poor widow with the hypocritical, pretentious, and money-loving scribes who “devour the houses of widows.” Instead, Jesus directed His disciples’ attention to the poor widow who did not place material wealth before her duty to God. Trusting God with a faithful and generous heart, she gives what little she has to support the poor. The generous self-giving of her contribution counts more with God because she gave out of her poverty, and the percentage of her gift was far greater than the large donations others gave out of substantial wealth.

In which category do you fall? Are you generous in your self-giving as an agent of God, bringing comfort and justice to the poor and dispossessed of society? God will reward acts of self-sacrifice when you face His throne of eternal judgment. One cannot compare His eternal reward to any of the benefits one might have had from those material goods on earth. Therefore, indulge in the act of self-giving, and God will reward you with spiritual blessings in this life and the next.

God the Son continues to “come against” the failed religious leadership in fulfillment of Ezekiel 34:1-25. Jesus’s condemnation of the scribes for their hypocrisy is similar to His judgment against the Pharisees and scribes in Mark 7:2-5. Widows were especially vulnerable if they didn’t have a living son to support them. Jesus accused the scribes, in their business dealings, of confiscating the homes of widows who were unable to support themselves and, at the same time, pretending piety in their prayers while demanding the positions of highest honor at social gatherings or in the Synagogues. Jesus proclaims that the judgment for their cruel acts against the poor will be severe (see Jesus’s judgment against the heartless rich in Lk 6:24-26).

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study. Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.

SOURCE: The Sunday Website at Saint Louis University: This website is a service of the Catholic Studies Centre at Saint Louis University, Matthew Baugh, SJ, Director; John Foley, SJ, Editor; Eleonore Stump, Coordinator; JC McCollum, Webmaster
SCRIPTURE IN DEPTH

Preaching the Lectionary

by Reginald H. Fuller

Both widows gave away all that they possessed.


THE WORD EMBODIED

When There Seems Nothing Left

by John Kavanaugh, SJ

There are times when we are down, and we think we have nothing left to give. Little remains in the barrel of our lives. Then, for some reason, we still manage to give more.


HISTORICAL CULTURAL CONTEXT

Scribes and Widows

by John J. Pilch

The word for “widow” in Hebrew carries the meaning of one who is silent, who is unable to speak.


LET THE SCRIPTURES SPEAK

Women Who Loved Too Much?

by Dennis Hamm, SJ

Let us not overlook the obvious: Jesus and the evangelists were there first with a critique of gender stereotyping.


SPIRITUALITY OF THE READINGS

Hungry?

by John Foley, SJ

The real meaning of trust is to release our own control of things.


GLANCING THOUGHTS

Honor

by Eleonore Stump

Christians should not care about honor.


THE PERSPECTIVE OF JUSTICE

Teaching Us Charity

by Gerald Darring

The two widows in the readings give up everything, totally trusting in the goodness of the Lord.


Ideas for General Intercessions

by Joe Milner

Ideas designed to be starting points for the prayers of a particular community of faith.

SOURCE: The Sunday Website at Saint Louis University: This website is a service of the Catholic Studies Centre at Saint Louis University, Matthew Baugh, SJ, Director; John Foley, SJ, Editor; Eleonore Stump, Coordinator; JC McCollum, Webmaster
LIFE RECOVERY NOTES

The Delivering Power of Faith

1 Kings 17:8-16 The widow of Zarephath demonstrated the delivering power of faith. She and her son faced starvation, but still she shared the last of her food with Elijah. She believed that God would come through, so she gave up her last resource for survival. The result was her deliverance. God provided for her need.

When we are powerless—at the end of our rope—all we need to do is call out to God. He will take care of us and deliver us from our dependencies if we are willing to trust him.

SOURCE: Content taken from THE LIFE RECOVERY BIBLE notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

LIFE RECOVERY NOTES

God’s Care for Us

Psalm 146:5-9 God made all things and cares about all his creation, even the most lowly. He gives justice to the oppressed, feeds the hungry, and frees the prisoners. He alone can restore us to sanity when sin has caused us to lose control of our life. We may think no one else cares about us, but we can be assured that God does. He even watches over those who have no one else to care for them.

SOURCE: Content taken from THE LIFE RECOVERY BIBLE notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

LIFE RECOVERY NOTES

Blending Reality with Hope

HEBREWS9:27-28 Hope for the future must be based on our facing the reality of the past and present. Death (and the following judgment) is the ultimate reality of this life; even Jesus Christ, in his humanity, died! But because of his resurrection he is able to offer salvation and spare believers from the fear of judgment.

This blend of reality and hope through faith can calm our fearful heart as we struggle with recovery issues. We can face any sin, any character defect, any hurt, knowing that Christ’s sacrifice is completely sufficient to offer cleansing and new life.

SOURCE: Content taken from THE LIFE RECOVERY BIBLE notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

PREACHER’S COMMENTARY

The Moral Challenge

Mark 12:38-40

What we believe affects the way we act and how we act affects the way we believe. Jesus has just accused the scribes of interpreting Scripture to conform to their own perceptions of the kingdom of God. Now, He indicts them personally for using their sacred office to promote their pride and cover unethical economic practices. No one who is guilty of these sins wants to know the whole Scripture and have it applied to their lives.

The pride of privilege

Jesus does not spare the details when He accuses the scribes of sinful pride. They are the original “power dressers” except that they wear long white linen robes with tassels on the fringe, rather than a three-piece navy blue pinstripe with a Phi Beta Kappa key chained across the vest. While clothes may not make the man, they certainly influence his behavior. A long white linen robe is good only for leisure, ceremony, or show. The scribes took full advantage of their dress by planned excursions through the streets and the marketplace just to see the rabble stand and hear them say, “Good morning, Master.” The same robe gave them the first place of honor at the banquet table and special seats in the synagogue where they sat on a bench in front of the altar facing the congregation so that they could be seen by all people. Little wonder that they were despised by the common people.

Religious dress has been a question of controversy through the ages. Deference has been awarded a priest’s collar, a nun’s habit, a rabbi’s cap, a pastor’s robe, and a chaplain’s cross. During recent times, the rebellion against established authority, the need for functionality, and the emphasis upon equality have reduced the wearing of these signs of spiritual office. If used only as showpieces for undue honor, wearing them should be reduced, if not eliminated. History, however, hints that they will return. Symbols are an inseparable part of human behavior. In proper perspective, they lend dignity to persons worthy of honor and meaning to the experiences of life worthy of remembrance. They can also be perverted into haughty signs of self-importance and abusive weapons against common people. In Jesus’ time, the symbols of sacred office needed to be brought back into proper perspective. In our time, their meaning needs to be restored.

The hypocrisy of holiness

Sinful pride in their sacred office constitutes the lesser charge of Jesus against the scribes. Their greater sin is an outward show of holiness that conceals a pit of avarice. As one of their functions, scribes serve as consultants in estate planning for widows. Their role gives them the opportunity to convince lonely and susceptible women that their money and property should either be given to the scribe for his holy work or to the temple for its holy ministries. In either case, the scribe gains personally. If he can convince a widow to become a patron of his work, a life of comfort is assured. If the widow prefers to contribute to the temple, he determines the share that can be taken as his consulting fee. Of course, there is no better way to assure the confidence of widows than by a show of spirituality, whether with long prayers in the temple or instant tears on television.

I personally share Jesus’ rage against a sentimental show of spirituality to get money and property from lonely women and widows. My mother, left alone by divorce and stricken with leukemia, watched faith-healers on television in futile hope. On one of my last visits to her, I found the literature and plastic charm of a faith-healer whom I know to be a fraud. When I asked my mother about it, she told me that she had sent in a $10 contribution for the material. I bit my tongue because I could not take the slightest hope away from my mother, but I left in anger. My mother had great faith in God. Yet, she had succumbed to the wiles of a religious showman and given money for his support. I could only think about the millions of sick and lonely women and widows whose houses were being devoured by spiritual pretense.

Jesus reserves “greater condemnation” for holders of sacred office who use spiritual pretense for economic gain, particularly at the expense of the poor and vulnerable people. A tough police captain who took over a scandal-ridden department which housed a burglary ring of police officers called them “worse than thieves” because they had used their badges to commit a crime. Jesus voices the same biting condemnation for scribes who use their sacred office to prey upon defenseless widows. To Him, they and anyone who joins them are “worse than thieves.”

The Spiritual Challenge

Mark 12:41-44

Economics continues to be at the center of spiritual decision-making. Jesus has exposed the hypocrisy of the scribes in their scheme to bilk widows out of their money and homes. Now, by way of comparison, He pierces them with the arrow of shame by drawing attention to a widow, who gives her all.

Leaving the royal cloisters where He has been teaching, Jesus enters into the Court of Women which also houses the treasury. Thirteen brazen receptacles shaped like trumpets line the walls. Worshipers put coins into one group of the trumpets and offerings of goods into others. As a people-watcher, Jesus observes “how the people put money into the treasury” (v. 41). Evidently, He notices the attitude with which they give as well as the amount of money they contribute. Do the faces of the rich show the pain of having to keep up their reputation for being generous? Does the widow look ashamed when she throws in her offering and hears only two “pings” as her mites hit the bottom of the trumpet? Who knows the difference between the offerings?

Jesus knows. Calling His disciples around Him, He repeats the lesson that He has taught so many times and in so many different ways. As she “out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood” (v. 44), God asks that we give Him our all. Many axioms of giving can be developed from the widow’s act:

Giving is to be measured

—not by its count, but its cost

—not by its amount, but its portion

—not by what is given, but by what is kept

—not by money, but by spirit

Fund-raising is one of the never-ending chores of a college president. I know why Jesus chose the treasury as the place to learn about people. Giving is worse than death for some persons whom I have met. A woman whose annual earnings from stocks totaled more than one-half million dollars gave only $25.00 to a wildlife preserve. Misery, loneliness, and alcoholism stalked her existence. On the other extreme, I met a man whose genius had produced a multi-million-dollar empire. Although he had not been known as a generous giver, he responded affirmatively to an appeal for one large gift and then another. Not only did he learn the joy of giving, but a confidant said, “He’s a changed man since he learned to give.”

Giving is a conduit through which redemption flows. At the earliest age, a child should be taught to give tithes and offerings to God. Then, when the call comes to give the love of heart, soul, mind, and strength to God, the act will not be alien and the satisfactions will not be unknown. Through the insignificant sound of two “pings” in the bottom of the treasury trumpet, the truth is repeated: “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses His life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:35).

SOURCE: Excerpt taken from THe Preacher’s Commentary, Complete 35-Volume Set: Genesis–Revelation offers pastors, teachers, and Bible study leaders clear and compelling insights into the entire Bible that will equip them to understand, apply, and teach the truth in God’s Word.

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MARK 12:38-40

38. And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces,

39. And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts:

40. Which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.

ANNOTATED INDEX

Third Century

  • Origen – Alexandrian biblical critic, exegete, theologian, and spiritual writer; analyzed the Scriptures on three levels: the literal, the moral, and the allegorical
  • Cyprian – pagan rhetorician converted to Christianity; acquired acquired a profound knowledge of the Scriptures and the writings of Tertullian; elected bishop of Carthage; martyred in 258

Fourth Century

  • Eusebius – Bishop of Caesarea; author of Ecclesiastical History, the principal source for the history of Christianity from the Apostolic Age till his own day; also wrote a valuable work on Biblical topography called the Onomasticon
  • Athanasius – Bishop of Alexandria; attended the Council of Nicea; opposed Arianism, in defence of the faith proclaimed at Nicaea—that is, the true deity of God the Son
  • Hilary – Bishop of Poitiers; the earliest known writer of hymns in the Western Church; defended the cause of orthodoxy against Arianism; became the leading Latin theologian of his age
  • Gregory of Nazianzus – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; a great influence in restoring the Nicene faith and leading to its final establishment at the Council of Constantinople in 381
  • Gregory of Nyssa – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Nyssa; took part in the Council of Constantinople
  • Ambrose – Bishop of Milan; partly responsible for the conversion of Augustine; author of Latin hymns; it was through his influence that hymns became an integral part of the liturgy of the Western Church
  • Jerome – biblical scholar; devoted to a life of asceticism and study; his greatest achievement was his translation of the Bible into Latin (the Vulgate); also wrote many biblical commentaries
  • Nemesius – Christian philosopher; Bishop of Emesa in Syria
  • Augustine – Bishop of Hippo (in northern Africa); a “Doctor of the Church”; most famous work is his Confessions; his influence on the course of subsequent theology has been immense
  • Chrysostom – Bishop of Constantinople; a “Doctor of the Church”; a gifted orator; his sermons on Gen, Ps, Isa, Matt, John, Acts, and the Pauline Epistles (including Hebrews) established him as the greatest of Christian expositors
  • Prosper of Aquitaine – theologian; supporter of Augustinian doctrines; closely associated with Pope Leo I (“the Great”)
  • Damasus – pope; active in suppressing heresy
  • Apollinaris of Laodicea – Bishop of Laodicea; close friend of Athanasias; vigorous advocate of orthodoxy against the Arians
  • Amphilochius of Iconium – Bishop of Iconium; close friend of the Cappadocian Fathers; defended the full Divinity of the Holy Spirit

Fifth Century

  • Asterius of Amasea – Arian theologian; some extant homilies on the Psalms attributed to him
  • Evagrius Ponticus – spiritual writer; noted preacher at Constantinople; spent the last third of his life living a monastic life in the desert
  • Isidore of Pelusium – an ascetic and exegete; his extant correspondence contains much of doctrinal, exegetical, and moral interest
  • Cyril of Alexandria – Patriarch of Alexandria; contested Nestorius; put into systematic form the classical Greek doctrines of the Trinity and of the Person of Christ
  • Maximus of Turin – Bishop of Turin; over 100 of his sermons survive
  • Cassion (prob. Cassian) – one of the great leaders of Eastern Christian monasticism; founded two monasteries near Marseilles; best known books the Institutes and the Conferences
  • Chrysologus – Bishop of Ravenna; a “Doctor of the Church”
  • Basil “the Great” – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Caesarea; responsible for the Arian controversy’s being put to rest at the Council of Constantinople
  • Theodotus of Ancyra – Bishop of Ancyra; wrote against the teaching of Nestorius
  • Leo the Great – Pope who significantly consolidated the influence of the Roman see; a “Doctor of the Church”; his legates defended Christological orthodoxy at the Council of Chalcedon
  • Gennadius – Patriarch of Constantinople; the author of many commentaries, notably on Genesis, Daniel, and the Pauline Epistles
  • Victor of Antioch – presbyter of Antioch; commentator and collector of earlier exegetical writings
  • Council of Ephesus – declared the teachings of Nestorious heretical, affirming instead the unity between Christ’s human and divine natures
  • Nilus – Bishop of Ancyra; disciple of St John Chrysostom; founder of a monastery; conducted a large correspondence influencing his contemporaries; his writings deal mainly with ascetic and moral subjects

Sixth Century

  • Dionysius Areopagita (aka Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite) – mystical theologian; combined Neoplatonism with Christianity; the aim of all his works is the union of the whole created order with God
  • Gregory the Great – Pope; a “Doctor of the Church”; very prolific writer of works on practical theology, pastoral life, expositions of Job, sermons on the Gospels, etc.
  • Isidore – Bishop of Seville; a “Doctor of the Church”; concerned with monastic discipline, clerical education, liturgical uniformity, conversion of the Jews; helped secure Western acceptance of Filioque clause
  • Eutychius (Patriarch of Constan­tinople) – consecrated the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople; defended the Chalcedonian faith against an unorthodox sect; became controversial later in life
  • Isaac (Bp. of Nineveh) (aka Isaac the Syrian) – monastic writer on ascetic subjects
  • Severus (Bp. of Antioch) – Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch; the leading theologian of the moderate Monophysites
  • John Climacus – ascetic and writer on the spiritual life; later Abbot of Mt. Sinai; best known for his Ladder of Divine Ascent which treats of the monastic virtues and vices
  • Fulgentius – Bishop of Ruspe in N. Africa; scholarly disposition; follower of St. Augustine; wrote many treatises against Arianism and Pelagianism

Seventh Century

  • Maximus ( of Constantinople, 645.) – Greek theologian; prolific writer on doctrinal, ascetical, exegetical, and liturgical subjects

Eighth Century

  • Bede (131CESK) – “the Venerable Bede”; a “Doctor of the Church”; pedagogue, biblical exegete, hagiographer, and historian, the most influential scholar from Anglo-Saxon England
  • John Damascene – Greek theologian; a “Doctor of the Church”; defender of images in the Iconoclastic Controversy; expounded the doctrine of the perichoresis (circumincession) of the Persons of the Trinity
  • Alcuin – Abbot of St. Martin’s (Tours); a major contributor to the Carolingian Renaissance; supervised the production of several complete editions of the Bible; responsible for full acceptance of the Vulgate in the West

Ninth Century

  • Haymo (of Halberstadt) – German Benedictine monk who became bishop of Halberstadt; prolific writer
  • Photius (of Constantinople) – Patriarch of Constantinople; a scholar of wide interests and encyclopedic knowledge; his most important work, Bibliotheca, is a description of several hundred books (many now lost), with analyses and extracts; also wrote a Lexicon
  • Rabanus Maurus – Abbot of Fulda in Hess Nassau; later Archbishop of Mainz; wrote commentaries on nearly every Book of the Bible
  • Remigius (of Auxerre) monk, scholar, and teacher
  • Paschasius Radbertus – Carolingian theologian; wrote commentaries on Lamentations and Matthew, as well as the first doctrinal monograph on the Eucharist, he maintained the real Presence of Christ

Eleventh Century

  • Theophylact – Byzantine exegete; his principal work, a series of commentaries on several OT books and on the whole of the NT except Revelation, is marked by lucidity of thought and expression and closely follows the scriptural text
  • Anselm – Archbishop of Canterbury; a “Doctor of the Church”; highly regarded teacher and spiritual director; famous ontological argument for the existence of God as “that than which nothing greater can be thought”
  • Petrus Alphonsus – Jewish Spanish writer and astronomer, a convert to Christianity; one of the most important figures in anti-Judaic polemics
  • Laufranc (prob. Lanfranc) – Archbishop of Canterbury; commented on the Psalms and Pauline Epistles; his biblical commentary passed into the Glossa Ordinaria

COMMENTARY

PSEUDO-JEROME. After confuting the Scribes and Pharisees, He burns up as a fire their dry and withered examples; wherefore it is said, And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the Scribes, which love to go in long clothing.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) To walk in long clothing is to go forth into public clad in garments too much ornamented, in which amongst other things, that rich man, who fared sumptuously every day, is said to have sinned.

THEOPHYLACT. But they used to walk in honourable garments, because they wished to be highly esteemed for it, and in like manner they desired other things, which lead to glory. For it goes on: And love salutations in the marketplaces, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) We must observe that He does not forbid that those, to whom it falls by the rule of their office, should be saluted in the marketplace, or have chief seats and places at feasts, but He teaches that those who love those things unduly, whether they have them or no, are to be avoided by the faithful as wicked men: that is, He blames the intention and not the office; although this too is culpable, that the very men who wish to be called masters of the synagogue in Moses’ seat, should have to do with lawsuits in the marketplace. We are in two ways ordered to beware of those who are desirous of vain glory; first, we should not be seduced by their hypocrisy into thinking that what they do is good; nor secondly, should we be excited to imitate them, through a vain rejoicing in being praised for those virtues which they affect.

THEOPHYLACT. He also especially teaches the Apostles, not to have any communication with the scribes, but to imitate Christ Himself; and in ordaining them to be masters in the duties of life, He places others under themv.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) But they do not only seek for praise from men, but also for gain. Wherefore there follows, Which devour widows’ houses, under the pretence of long prayers. For there are men who pretending to be just hesitate not to receive money from persons who are troubled in conscience, as though they would be their advocates in the judgment. A hand stretched out to the poor is always an accompaniment to prayer, but these men pass the night in prayer, that they may take away money from the poor.

THEOPHYLACT. But the Scribes used to come to women, who were left without the protection of their husbands, as though they were their protectors; and by a pretence of prayer, a reverend exterior and hypocrisy, they used to deceive widows, and thus also devour the houses of the rich. It goes on, These shall receive a greater damnation, that is, than the other Jews, who sinned.

Mark 12:41–44

41. And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.

42. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.

43. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:

44. For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

COMMENTARY

BEDE. (ubi sup.) The Lord, who had warned them to avoid the desire of high place and vain glory, now distinguishes by a sure test those who brought in gifts. Wherefore it is said, And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury. In the Greek language, phylassein means to keep, and gaza is a Persian word for treasure; wherefore the word gazophylacium. which is here used means a place where riches are kept, which name also was applied to the chest in which the offerings of the people were collected, for the necessary uses of the temple, and to the porch in which they were kept. You have a notice of the porch in the Gospel, These words spake Jesus in the treasury as He taught in the temple; and of the chest in the book of Kings, But Jehoiada the priest took a chest. (John 8:20. 2 Kings 12:9)

THEOPHYLACT. Now there was a praiseworthy custom amongst the Jews, that those who were able and willing should put something into the treasury, for the maintenance of the priests, the poor, and the widows; wherefore there is added, And many that were rich cast in much. But whilst many people were so engaged, a poor widow came up, and shewed her love by offering money according to her ability; wherefore it is said, And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) Reckoners use the word ‘quadrans’ for the fourth part of any thing, be it place, money, or time. Perhaps then in this place is meant the fourth part of a shekel, that is, five pence. It goes on, And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: for God does not weigh the property but the conscience of those who offer; nor did He consider the smallness of the sum in her offering, but what was the store from which it came. Wherefore He adds, For all they did cast in of their abundance, but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

PSEUDO-JEROME. But in a mystical sense, they are rich, who bring forth from the treasure of their heart things new and old, which are the obscure and hidden things of Divine wisdom in both testaments; but who is the poor woman, if it be not I and those like me, who cast in what I can, and have the will to explain to you, where I have not the power. For God does not consider how much ye hear, but what is the store from which it comes; but each at all events can bring his farthing, that is, a ready will, which is called a farthing, because it is accompanied by three things, that is, thought, word, and deed. And in that it is said that she cast in all her living, it is implied that all that the body wants is that by which it lives1; wherefore it is said, All the labour of man is for his mouth. (Eccl. 6:7)

THEOPHYLACT. Or else; That widow is the soul of man, which leaving Satan to which it had been joined, casts into the temple two mites, that is, the flesh and the mind, the flesh by abstinence, the mind by humility, that so it may be able to hear that it has cast away all its living, and has consecrated it, leaving nothing for the world of all that it possessed.

BEDE. (ubi sup) Again, in an allegorical way, the rich men, who cast gifts into the treasury, point out the Jews puffed up with the righteousness of the law; the poor widow is the simplicity of the Church: poor indeed, because she has cast away the spirit of pride and of the desires of worldly things; and a widow, because Jesus her husband has suffered death for her. She casts two mites into the treasury, because she brings the love of God and of her neighbour, or the gifts of faith and prayer; which are looked upon as mites in their own insignificance, but measured by the merit of a devout intention are superior to all the proud works of the Jews. The Jew sends of his abundance into the treasury, because he presumes on his own righteousness; but the Church sends her whole living into God’s treasury, because she understands that even her very living is not of her own desert, but of Divine grace.

SOURCE: eCatholic 2000 Commentary in public domain.

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