The Tale of Two Widows
Do you ever go to a Mass where you felt like God chose the readings just for you? This Sunday it felt like God had plucked the first reading and the Gospel because he specifically wanted me to adjust my mindset relative to trust, generosity and finances.
The two women in the readings, though they possessed very little and did not hold many prospects for income in the future, gave absolutely everything they could. Think about that for a second. They didn’t just give a little because they had little. They didn’t give what they could “afford”, they just gave everything. That takes immense trust in God.
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.
The idea of giving all of the money I have to Jesus… purely because it’s the right thing to do, is a foreign one to me, I really like having nice things. Whether it’s clothes, shoes, furniture, or even the “nice” brand of body wash. I like to think that because of the way I was raised or the amount of money John and I make, we’re entitled to a certain lifestyle. My husband has actually been challenging me on this recently, asking if we’re really giving as much as we can to charity. I assure him that we are, saying it’s proportionate to our income… but in reality, it’s no where near proportionate to what God’s given to us!! My Protestant friends often say that certain Scripture passages make them feel “convicted”. I don’t think I ever truly appreciated the meaning of that word until this Sunday.
At this point in my thought process, I’d usually say to myself, “Well, I’m not a radical person and there’s nothing wrong with moderation when it comes to finances.” The only problem with that logic is that moderation isn’t really appropriate when it comes to giving to God. If there’s one place in your life you should be radical, should it not be for God? What could be more important than your love for Him?
I do like to think of myself as moderate in a few ways: my tone of voice usually, my love of reason in arguments as opposed to character attacks, the way I am in most of my relationships with people, even those people whom I don’t particularly care for. I’ve had numerous friends exhort me to be more “moderate” in recent weeks, in reference to politics. “If conservatives could just come to the middle, our country would be so much less divided and hostile”, they say. I have no problem telling them that, “moderate” is synonymous with “conceding” or abandoning principles in the interest of good feelings. Being moderate in the face of true evil (the horror of like abortion, for example) is not something to be proud of. I have no trouble rationalizing my ideology in terms of what I’m wiling to promote with my mouth.
When I look at the stories of these two women, they weren’t shouting with righteous indignation. They weren’t making a show of what they were giving. All we know about them is that they humbly gave to God. This Sunday, the readings made me convicted to love God with my wallet as well as my mouth.