Pope Francis on the Generosity of the Poor Widow.
Pope Francis on the Generosity of the Poor Widow.
POPE FRANCIS ON THE GENEROSITY OF THE POOR WIDOW
Saint Peter’s Square
Sunday, 7 November 2021
32ND Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Dear Brothers and Sisters, buongiorno!
The scene described in the Gospel of today’s Liturgy takes place inside the Temple of Jerusalem. Jesus looks, he looks at what is happening in this the most sacred of places; and he sees how the scribes love to walk around to be seen, greeted and revered, and in order to have the places of honour. And Jesus adds that they “devour widows’ houses and recite long prayers in order to be seen” (cf. Mk 12:40). At the same time, another scene catches his eyes: a poor widow, precisely one of those exploited by the powers that be, puts in the Temple treasury “everything she had, her whole living” (Mk 12:44). This is what the Gospel says, she puts everything she had to live on in the Treasury. The Gospel presents us with this striking contrast: the rich who give from their surplus wealth to make themselves seen, and a poor woman, who without seeming to, offers every little bit she has. Two symbols of human attitudes.
Jesus watches the two scenes. And it is specifically this verb – “to watch” – that sums up his teaching: “we must watch out for” those who live their faith with duplicity, like the scribes, so as not to become like them; whereas we must “watch” the widow, and take her as a model. Let us reflect on this: to watch out for hypocrites and to watch the poor widow.
First of all, to watch out for hypocrites, that is, to be careful not to base our life on the cult of appearances, externals, and the exaggerated care of one’s own image. And most importantly, to be careful not to bend faith around our own interests. In the name of God, those scribes covered-up their own vainglory, and even worse, they used religion to cultivate their own affairs, abusing their authority and exploiting the poor. Here we see that very bad attitude that we see in many places today, clericalism, this being above the humble, exploiting them, demeaning them, considering oneself perfect. This is the evil of clericalism. This is a warning for all time and for everyone, Church and society: never to take advantage of a specific role to crush others, never to make money off the backs of the weakest! And to watch out so as not to fall into vanity, so as not to be fixated on appearances, losing what is essential and living superficially. Let us ask ourselves, it will help us: do we want to be appreciated and gratified by what we say and what we do, or rather to be of service to God and neighbour, especially the weakest? We must be watch out for falsehood of the heart, against hypocrisy which is a dangerous illness of the soul! It is a dualism of thought, a dual judgement, as the word itself says: “to judge below”, to appear one way and “hypo”, beneath, to think in a different way. Doubles, people with double souls, a duality of the soul.
To heal this illness, Jesus invites us to watch the poor widow. The Lord denounces the exploitation of this woman, who, in making her offering, must return home without even the little she had to live on. How important it is to free the sacred from ties with money! Jesus had already said it elsewhere: you cannot serve two masters. Either you serve God – and we think he says “or the devil”, no – either God or money. He is a master, and Jesus says we must not serve him. But, at the same time, Jesus praises the fact that this widow puts all she has into the treasury. She has nothing left, but finds her everything in God. She is not afraid of losing the little she has because she trusts in God’s abundance, and God’s abundance multiplies the joy of those who give. This also makes us think of that other widow, the one of the prophet Elijah, who was about to make a flatbread with the last of her flour and the last of her oil; Elijah says to her: “Feed me” and she gives; and the flour never runs out, it is a miracle (cf. 1 Kings 17:9-16). The Lord always, in the face of people’s generosity, goes further, is more generous. But it is He, not our avarice. This is why Jesus proposes her as a teacher of faith, this woman: she does not go to the Temple to clear her conscience, she does not pray to make herself seen, she does not show off her faith, but she gives from her heart generously and freely. The sound of her few coins is more beautiful than the grandiose offerings of the rich, since they express a life sincerely dedicated to God, a faith that does not live by appearances but by unconditional trust. Let us learn from her: a faith without external frills, but interiorly sincere; a faith composed of humble love for God and for our brothers and sisters.
And now let us turn to the Virgin Mary, who with a humble and transparent heart made her entire life a gift for God and for his people.
Pope Francis on the Generosity of the Poor Widow
Dear friends: In his 8 Nov 2015 Angelus Address, the Holy Father commented on the Gospel of the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B, denouncing the vices of pride, hypocrisy, and greed which are incompatible with Christian life. At the same time, he praised the trusting generosity and abandonment of the poor widow, characteristics which we should live in our daily life as Christians.
Let us not be stingy in our self-giving to God and to others in the small things of our daily life such as prayer, sacraments, interior struggle, works of mercy…Only then shall we be ready to pursue greater steps and give ourselves and follow Him faithfully till the end. Are we giving all that we could to God and to others according to our personal circumstances?
Below is the Vatican translation of the Pope’s Address. Titles mine. Have a great week ahead and God bless!
-Fr. Rolly Arjonillo, priest of Opus Dei, CATHOLICS STRIVING FOR HOLINESS. We are also in Facebook: www.facebook.com/CatholicsstrivingforHoliness. Hope you like our page and invite your friends as well to do so in order to help more people.
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Dear brothers and sisters, good morning… on such a beautiful, sunny day!
1. HOW NOT TO BE FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST. PRIDE, GREED, AND HYPOCRISY ARE INCOMPATIBLE WITH CHRISTIAN LIFE.
This Sunday’s Gospel passage is composed of two parts: one that describes how not to be followers of Christ; the other offers an example of a Christian.
Let’s start with the first: what not to do. In the first part, Jesus accuses the scribes, the teachers of the law, of having three defects in their lifestyle: pride, greed and hypocrisy. They like “to have salutations in the market places and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts” (Mk 12:38-39). But beneath such solemn appearances they are hiding falsehood and injustice.
While flaunting themselves in public, they use their authority — as Jesus says — to devour “the houses of widows” (cf. v. 40); those who, along with orphans and foreigners, were considered to be the people most vulnerable and least protected. Lastly, Jesus says that the scribes, “for a pretence make long prayers” (v. 40). Even today we risk taking on these attitudes. For example, when prayer is separate from justice so that God cannot be worshiped, and causing harm to the poor. Or when one claims to love God, but instead offers him only grandiosity for one’s own advantage.
2. THE TOTAL GENEROSITY OF THE POOR WIDOW: IN HER POVERTY SHE UNDERSTOOD THAT HAVING GOD, SHE HAS EVERYTHING.
The second part of the Gospel follows this line of thinking. The scene is set in the temple of Jerusalem, precisely in the place where people are tossing coins as offerings. There are many rich people putting in large sums, and there is a poor woman, a widow, who contributes only two bits, two small coins. Jesus observes the woman carefully and calls the disciples’ attention to the sharp contrast of the scene.
The wealthy contributed with great ostentation what for them was superfluous, while the widow, Jesus says, “put in everything she had, her whole living” (v. 44). For this reason, Jesus says, she gave the most of all. Because of her extreme poverty, she could have offered a single coin to the temple and kept the other for herself. But she did not want to give just half to God; she divested herself of everything. In her poverty she understood that in having God, she had everything; she felt completely loved by him and in turn loved him completely. What a beautiful example this little old woman offers us!
3. THE MEASUREMENT IS NOT THE QUANTITY BUT THE FULLNESS. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE. IT IS NOT A QUESTION OF THE WALLET, BUT OF THE HEART.
Today Jesus also tells us that the benchmark is not quantity but fullness. There is a difference between quantity and fullness. You can have a lot of money and still be empty. There is no fullness in your heart. This week, think about the difference there is between quantity and fullness. It is not a matter of the wallet, but of the heart. There is a difference between the wallet and the heart…. There are diseases of the heart, which reduce the heart to the wallet…. This is not good! To love God “with all your heart” means to trust in him, in his providence, and to serve him in the poorest brothers and sisters without expecting anything in return.
Allow me to tell you a story, which happened in my previous diocese. A mother and her three children were at the table, the father was at work. They were eating Milan-style cutlets…. There was a knock at the door and one of the children — they were young, 5, 6 and the oldest was 7 — comes and says: “Mom, there is a beggar asking for something to eat”. And the mom, a good Christian, asks them: “What shall we do?” — “Let’s give him something, mom…” – “Ok”. She takes her fork and knife and cuts the cutlets in half. “Ah no, mom, no! Not like this! Take something from the fridge” — “No! Let’s make three sandwiches with this!”. The children learned that true charity is given, not with what is left over, but with what we need. That afternoon I am sure that the children were a bit hungry…. But this is how it’s done!
Faced with the needs of our neighbours, we are called — like these children and the halved cutlets — to deprive ourselves of essential things, not only the superfluous; we are called to give the time that is necessary, not only what is extra; we are called to give immediately and unconditionally some of our talent, not after using it for our own purposes or for our own group.
Let us ask the Lord to admit us to the school of this poor widow, whom Jesus places in the cathedra and presents as a teacher of the living Gospel even to the astonishment of the disciples. Through the intercession of Mary, the poor woman who gave her entire life to God for us, let us ask for a heart that is poor, but rich in glad and freely given generosity.
SPEECH SOURCE: http://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/angelus/2015/documents/papa-francesco_angelus_20151108.html (titles mine)
PHOTO SOURCE: http://www.internetmonk.com/…/Widows-Mite-SantAppollinare-R…
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