Love without measure

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time–B
1 Kgs 17:10-16
Heb 9:24-28
 Mk 12: 38-44

nov8_32nd

Jesus sees the essential. The widow gave more since “in her poverty [she] has put in everything she possessed, all she had to live on.” It was not merely her surplus, those two small coins meant everything for her. Graphics by Prenovice Jonas Lacson.

Our liturgy today situates us before individuals who do not just give out from their excess. They truly give; even when it already hurts.

In the first reading, there was the tall figure of a widow from Zarephath. The detail of her name was obviously left out. She was simply referred as a widow from Zarephath. Perhaps, her name was not any more important. What mattered was her kind deed which helped Prophet Elijah see another day.

Elijah came in the most inopportune moment. There was famine in the entire land, and in the very household he saw himself in, no bread was available. Yes, the widow he approached earlier was preparing for a meal. She tells Elijah that it might be their last since their supply was already running out.

The widow, would not want to miss a beat, she had to rub it in, just in case Elijah was too insensitive not to understand: The meager food left in a jar spells everything for her and her son. Another mouth to share this with—was not welcomed. But the prophet dropped God’s name. The widow proceeded as she was told. If she had ill-feelings she wanted to voice out, we would never know. All we know was she kept her peace; she asked no questions. She just gave her very all, despite its meagerness, despite their need for it.

In the Gospel we just heard. There goes another nameless widow yet again. If not for Jesus, we would not be able to notice her. Well, we could not blame ourselves. The men who came ahead of her gave a much bigger amount. The evangelist helped us to see the detail: many of the rich put in a great deal. St. Mark left out the detail of how much they actually contributed to the Temple. Is it because it is too big amount to keep a tab on? But look at this, he took note of how the poor widow pitched in: two small coins. He even apprised us with its modern equivalent so that we could have an idea how much she actually gave: an equivalent of a penny.

Large sums of riches put in by the well-off vs. the two small coins, an amount comparable to a penny, dropped by a lowly widow. Such a disparity of donation in more ways than one! But Jesus knew a different kind of arithmetic which our basic education did not teach us. This is a system of counting which goes beyond mere physical counting and that which goes straight inside the heart of hearts of someone who gives.

Jesus sees the essential. The widow gave more since “in her poverty [she] has put in everything she possessed, all she had to live on.” It was not merely her surplus, those two small coins meant everything for her.

The examples of the two generous widows are perfected in the person of Christ.

We heard it from the second reading, Jesus did not merely function as a priest who offered a burnt sacrifice on our behalf. He did not merely choose the fattest lamb to offer on our behalf. More than this, in order to save us from our sins, He volunteered His very life.

In the example of Jesus, we ought to see the real value of how it is to really give, of how it is to genuinely love: to give without limits, to love devoid of measure.

Dear friends, our liturgy today made us encounter three selfless, generous individuals. Let us learn from their examples. Later, when we finish the Mass, we are sent out. But let us not leave this church without making a resolve to heed the example of the two widows, without looking intently at the example of Jesus.

We are not too poor not to be able to give. In this Holy Eucharist, we are truly enriched by Jesus’ love. Later, as we are sent out as we finish the Mass, let this love empower us to be generous in giving ourselves to be of service to others. May we be able to follow the two lowly widows and Jesus in treading the path of true giving—even when it already hurts.

Let us give without counting, let us toil without counting the cost, let us love without measure.

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