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GOSPEL COMMENTARIES


 

 

THE WIDOW'S MITE

(Mark 12:38-44)

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 this way. 

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

 

 

 

(updated 03-16-02)

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