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Mass prep – 30 seconds/3 points: The original Greek of the widow’s mite

The Widow's Mite

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Fr. Paweł Rytel-Andrianik - published on 11/06/21

The Gospel of this Sunday is actually not at all about money.

This Sunday’s Gospel is Mk 12:41–44

1. The heart of this Gospel

Contrary to appearances, the Gospel about the widow who offered two coins is not about money. This is a Gospel about trusting the Lord God in difficult situations.

2. The life of a widow, generous like God

A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.

The situation of a widow in ancient times was extremely difficult. When her husband died, she lost her source of livelihood. She inherited nothing. Her fate depended on the mercy, or unkindness, of her children and family. In practice, many widows lived in poverty or even extreme poverty. And when health problems came along, the widow’s situation was dramatic.

A poor widow came to the temple to meet God, to entrust her fate to Him and not to people. She gave God all she had: the two smallest pieces of money in existence at the time. She did not keep even one coin for herself, which means in fact that she had nothing for her next meal.

Calling his disciples to himself, Jesus 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.”

In the temple, there were 13 treasuries in the form of trumpets, where people threw coins. The heavier the coin, the louder it was heard, and thus it was more or less clear who was making what offering.

What the poor widow threw in was about 0.01 denar, and a denar was the salary for one day’s work. She threw in everything she had to support herself. In the original Greek, the text literally says: “holon ton bion” – “her whole life.”

Jesus commended this woman because, as he said: “everyone was throwing in from what they had left over,” from their “surplus” and she threw in everything. The poor widow’s boundless generosity reminds us of the boundless generosity of the Lord God, who gave us even His only Son.

3. Today

The Servant of God Fr. Dolindo Ruotolo used to say in difficult situations, “Jesus, you take care of it.” He entrusted things to the Lord God and asked Him for help. Let us think for a moment about whether each of us, in difficult situations, turns to God and asks Him for help, or whether we rely only on our own strength?

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