Collect of the Day:
Lord, may the splendour of the Resurrection shine in our hearts.
Make us worthy to escape the shadows of death
and arrive in the brightness of eternity.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.
First reading 2 Timothy 4:1 – 8
Before God and before Christ Jesus who is to be judge of the living and the dead, I put this duty to you, in the name of his Appearing and of his kingdom: proclaim the message and, welcome or unwelcome, insist on it. Refute falsehood, correct error, call to obedience – but do all with patience and with the intention of teaching. The time is sure to come when, far from being content with sound teaching, people will be avid for the latest novelty and collect themselves a whole series of teachers according to their own tastes; and then, instead of listening to the truth, they will turn to myths. Be careful always to choose the right course; be brave under trials; make the preaching of the Good News your life’s work, in thoroughgoing service.
As for me, my life is already being poured away as a libation, and the time has come for me to be gone. I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith; all there is to come now is the crown of righteousness reserved for me, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that Day; and not only to me but to all those who have longed for his Appearing.
The Gospel Mark 12:38 – 44
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 more in 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, all she had to live on.’
In the Temple during the time of Jesus, between the Court of the Gentiles and the Court of the Women there was the Beautiful Gate. Perhaps this was the spot that Jesus had moved to when He noticed the Widow. In the Court of the Women were thirteen collection boxes called the ‘The Trumpets’, because of their shape. Each one of them served a different purpose, to help meet the needs for the Temples daily sacrifices and expenses. Many people gave quite considerably, then came a woman, a widow, who then flung in two mites. The coin called was a lepton, which literally translates as a thin one. It was the smallest of all the coins and was worth one sixteenth of a penny. Yet Jesus tells us that this tiny contribution was greater than all the others, for others had given what they could comfortably spare, while the widow gave all that she had.
So what lessons can we glean from this story?
Firstly that for giving to be real, it must be sacrificial. It is not the size or the amount of the gift that matters, but the worth of the gift to the giver. Real generosity give until it hurts. There are few of us who will do without our pleasures to give a little more to the furtherment of God’s Kingdom. I tuly wonder how many of us can reflect on the widow’s faith and not feel a little ashamed?
Secondly the widow withheld nothing back from her offering to God, she gave all that she had, and within her action is hidden a great symbolic truth. It is that there is often parts of our lives to which we cling to so tenaciously, that we are unwilling to surrender to Christ. Most of us unlike the widow are rarely ready to make the final sacrifice and surrender to Our Lord God.
But perhaps the most wonderful thing we have in this story is that the person who Christ was to give to history as a model of generosity and selfless giving, was a person who gave less than a penny. We may feel that we have not much to give in the way of material or personal gifts to Christ and His Church, but if we put all that we have and are at His disposal He can do things with it and with us that are beyond imagining!!!
A Self-offering to God:
Take, Lord, all my liberty.
Receive my memory, my understanding,
and my whole will.
Whatever I have and possess,
You have given me;
to You I restore it wholly,
and to Your will I utterly
surrender it for my direction.
Give me the love of You only,
with Your grace, and I am rich enough;
nor do I ask anything besides.