Thirty Second Sunday|Ordinary Time
In his teaching Jesus said, ‘Beware of the scribes who like to walk about in long robes, to be greeted obsequiously in the market squares, to take the front seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets; these are the men who swallow the property of widows, while making a show of lengthy prayers. The more severe will be the sentence they receive.’
He sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the treasury, and many of the rich put in a great deal. A poor widow came and put in two small coins, the equivalent of a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, ‘I tell you solemnly, this poor widow has put in more than all who have contributed to the treasury; for they have all put in money they had over, but she from the little she had has put in everything she possessed.’
Jesus sees the value of the offering in terms of its value to the person who gives it, not its absolute value. The two small coins were nothing to the rich donors, but they represented a significant part of the widow’s meagre resources. The rich did not have to go without anything as a result of making their donations; the widow would have had to give up something which was a necessity in order to make her donation.
The value of the small gift of time or money should never be under-estimated. A few minutes spent with an upset child during the morning before-school rush; the phone call to an elderly relative; the giving of a small donation – these sorts of things require a decision to put aside whatever we want to do in order to attend to the needs of another. The value to the other may be much larger than size of the action would indicate.
Most people see Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta as having done a great work, which continues on through her Sisters. Mother Teresa herself did not see herself as doing a great work – she saw her work as many small actions:
“What we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But if that drop was not in the ocean, I think the ocean would be less because of that missing drop. I do not agree with the big way of doing things.”
Whatever we have to offer to God and to others, size is not the determinant of value.