My Dear Sisters and Brothers! The Word of God given to us this Sunday is saturated with poverty. We are told of the stories of two widows. The widows God is putting before our eyes this Sunday show us something challenging: poverty doesn’t need to make people selfish, thinking only of themselves. On the contrary the widows from the Bible and the woman I told you of were still paying attention to the needs of others. St John Paul II while he was still a cardinal said: “A poor means is usually the richest as it has the human heart for its source. One need to reach to that heart otherwise a rich means is poor. It doesn’t make an impact.” What did the widow from our first reading have? “A handful of flour in a jar and a little oil just enough to make a small scone.” What did the widow from the Gospel have? “Two small coins, which were an equivalent of a penny.” What did the woman from the story I told you have? Some food brought her by St Vincent de Paul people. They all had very little but at the same time they had very rich hearts, their hearts were generous. That’s why they have made their way to the Bible as their stories have become God’s stories. In a very powerful way God has spoken to us through their simple lives.
Let me take you to the Temple in Jerusalem where it all took place. In the Temple there was a section where there were 13 big jars for donations. 12 were together while the thirteenth was kind of separated. To help you to visualise the scene imagine me, as a priest, standing next to one of the twelve jars and let’s say Mr John Smith making a donation. What would happen next would be me yelling: “Mr John Smith has donated 10,000 dollars and has requested to pray for a successful business trip to Egypt!!!”
The thirteenth jar was lonely. The people who placed their donations there wouldn’t have them advertised and even more, they weren’t expecting anything from God for their offerings either. If the Jews had 12 jars for those “noisy” donations and only one for inconspicuous donations it means that most of the people were keen on that “advertisement”. Now, in the crowd of people and donation’s noises our poor widow comes and she places two small coins. The whole world missed that but not Jesus. He not only saw it but he also evaluated the value of the donation on the basis of her heart intention. As I said at the beginning the Bible stories for this Sunday are saturated with poverty but as we read in another passage of the Holy Scriptures: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” Our Blessed Lord came into this world not with armies of angels carrying food supplies. He came as a poor man but with the heart that was so generous that he gave up all his blood on the cross, not only a few drops. All his blood was poured out to save us, to make our hears according to his Sacred Heart loving so much that they don’t calculate the cost.
My Dear Friends! Let me finish with a story from my life. When I took my final vows as a Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate my parents gave me a gift. It was a golden rosary ring which was made of the wedding ring of my mum. I loved it but one day I had this thought: “What should I do if a poor person asked me for help? Would I give the ring to the poor fellow?” In my head I started making all sorts of excuses, like: “It is a special ring, it is part of the history of my family etc.” Even if the excuses were valid I wasn’t comfortable. Do you know how the situation was sorted out? A couple days later I lost the ring. However I saw in that God helping me to free my heart from something, even as special and precious as that ring, that could stop me from being open to the needs of others.