32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
38 In the course of his teaching he said, "Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces,
39 seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets.
40 They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext, recite lengthy prayers. They will receive a very severe condemnation."
41 He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums.
42 A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.
43 Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, "Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury.
44 For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood."
- "as a pretext recite lengthy prayers ."(NAB) or, "for a show make lengthy prayers." (NIV). Their prayers are directed at human rather than to God.
- "greetings in the marketplaces ". According to the Talmud, when two people meet in the public, the one who is less knowledgeable of the law should greet the other first.
- Treasury (or collection box) is most likely, one of the thirteen trumpet-shaped chests placed in the court of the temple. The copper coins when dropped into these receptacles would reverberate and thus will draw attention to both the giver and the amount of coins.
- The small copper coin that the widow offers is a "lepton", the smallest monetary denomination, which is about 1/8 of a Roman penny, or 1/32 of a "denarius" (a daily wage of a day labor). In Mt 10:29 it is stated that two sparrows is sold for a penny. So, the two coins of the widow cannot even buy one sparrow.
- The mention of two coins is important: the woman could have kept one for herself. But instead she had let go of her own security and offer herself wholly to God. These words addressed to the disciples are the final words on discipleship at the close of Jesus' ministry.
- According to some commentators, Jesus does not praise but rather laments this woman's behavior. She has been taught "sacrificial giving" by her religious leaders, and that is the pity.
One Main Point
While we are content to be guided by appearances, to judge people by what they possess and to value presents by how much they cost, Christ measures us by our inner motives and attitudes behind our actions.
- Why do I do what I do? What benefits do I get from others? What benefits do I expect from God? What really motivates my behavior?
- Do I assume that the more I do or contribute, the better? What standard do I use to discern, to decide what I should do and how much? Am I aware of different standards and motivators? How free am I to choose my standard?
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A synthesis by the Vietnamese Christian Life (Dong Hanh) Community