THE WIDOW'S MITE
The gospel presents to us an example
which we must avoid and an example which we must imitate. The image
we must avoid is that of the Scribes whom Christ condemned for
wearing long robes, a symbol of exuberance and luxury in dressing
up. Christ also rebukes their desire to be in the first places, in
high positions in offices and prominent places in banquets and
social occasions. And to be greeted with honor in public.
The saints were treated in the same
way; they were greeted with honor and given the first places...but
they hated it. They literally ran away from these things as much as
they could help it. Holy men used to run away from being made
bishops. It is not being treated thus that Christ condemned but to
love to be treated this way. The Scribes just loved to be treated
And whom must we imitate? The widow
who offered two mites to the temple treasury. Christ explained that
rich people usually give from their excess but this widow is
admirable because she gave from her poverty. There are two
interpretations here: the first is that those who are rich in spirit
and in talents usually use their greater time and resources in the
quest for the world and give only whatever is left to the service of
God. The widow, on the other hand, had little time and resources but
gave them all to the service of God.
Another interpretation is that the
widow was widowed in that she was once married to the world and sin.
But now, the world and sin are dead to her, thus, she is a widow.
The two mites she offered to God are: first, her body crowned with
self-discipline and, second, her soul clothed with humility.
This is the offering most pleasing to God...Christ says. For a
self-controlled body and a humble soul can only be offered when a
Christian soul has given up the world and sin.
St. Thomas Aquinas