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Why do we need to know about the widow and her two coins?


Fr. Dan Daly, S.J. - published on 11/21/16

Her simple, quiet life might have escaped our attention, so Jesus made sure to point her out.
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Huldah sat outside on a wobbly chair enjoying a cup of weak tea, a crust of bread, and the welcome sunshine of early spring. She was feeling particularly grateful that morning. She was thankful that spring had arrived and that the cold rains had come to an end. The dry air brought heaven-sent relief to her arthritis. Huldah was very appreciative of her cousins who had converted the shed in the back of their property into a lovely little living quarters for her. The extended family had been very good to her since her husband died. Huldah was also grateful to the merchant at the market yesterday who had given her a wonderful fish free of charge! He claimed that he had not been able to sell it, but Huldah suspected that he was simply being generous. The fish was so big that Huldah invited her friend Dinah to share it with her. They had a wonderful meal.

Later that morning, Huldah made her way to the temple. It was the Feast of Lots and Huldah wanted to make a special gift in honor of Queen Esther, who had been a hero of hers since she was a little girl. Huldah was not able to visit the temple very often but wanted to do so that day. She had a couple of coins that she had hidden away for just this occasion. God had been so good to her that she wanted to make a small gift to the treasury as an expression of her appreciation. After depositing her coins in the box, she noticed a teacher instructing a small group of followers. Huldah concluded that he must be the prophet named Jesus, whom Dinah had told her about. Huldah said a little prayer, asking God to watch over him.

Jesus invited his disciples and he invites us to notice people like Huldah. She was a remarkably generous woman, donating to the temple treasury money that she could have easily and understandably used for herself. Her generosity surely came from a grateful heart. Paying little attention to the difficulties in her life, Huldah recognized and appreciated the simple gifts that she enjoyed. Huldah was also a woman of remarkable trust. She was not even sure from where her next meal might come, but she did not worry about it. She left it all in God’s hands. Clearly, God was part of her life. Huldah greeted God when she woke up in the morning and was aware of God’s presence throughout the day. When Huldah visited the temple, she wanted nothing more than to give God a small sign of her love.

Jesus wants us to notice Huldah. Her simple, quiet life might have escaped our attention, so Jesus made sure to point her out. Her example gives us inspiration to continue to seek lives of gratitude, generosity and trust. And Huldah’s life gives us encouragement. In her we see God’s grace at work in the world. We are reminded that the Kingdom for which we pray is not only possible but already growing in our midst.

For the Mass readings for November 21, click here. To learn more about the painting of the widow’s pennies, click here.

Author’s note:  St. Ignatius Loyola encouraged us to use our imagination in contemplating Scripture passages so that we might draw greater fruit from them. In reflecting on the story of the widow with the two copper coins, I use my imagination to fill in some of the details of the story, including the woman’s name.

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