In the course of his teaching Jesus said,
“Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes
and accept greetings in the marketplaces,
seats of honor in synagogues,
and places of honor at banquets.
They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext,
recite lengthy prayers.
They will receive a very severe condemnation.”
He sat down opposite the treasury
and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury.
Many rich people put in large sums.
A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.
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.
For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth,
but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had,
her whole livelihood.”
This scene is still played out in our day, and when Jesus spoke these words He must have known that we would need to be constantly reminded of what counts as treasure in heaven.
Having served in different communities since I was a teenager, I've experienced being in both situations being compared in the Gospel today. I've had a desire to be like the scribes, to sit in places of honor when I should have been out the back serving the people. There have been days, however, when like the poor widow, I had literally put my last peso into the collection basket at Mass and prayed to God to provide for me, as I knew He would.
Reflecting on this Gospel today, I first thought of the many people who still sought positions of power and places of honor even within Christian communities, and I prayed for them. Immediately, however, I remembered the times when I myself wanted to be recognized, affirmed, and thanked, and I felt shame. It is a challenge to remain focused on Christ - loving Him, responding to Him, serving Him, obeying Him - and not on myself, for as a human being I am distracted by my own insecurities, fears, and wants.
Have I grown in this area? I would like to think that each day is a new beginning, and it is an upward call. Having no clear-cut position of service now helps me to check my heart and learn from my mistakes. But as I am being called to serve daily in the different roles I find myself in, I take this opportunity to go back to what's important as Jesus clearly explained to His disciples.
Before I concern myself with how others profess their love for God, I should first check the log in my eye and the contents of my heart.
I would like to be someone who will please the Lord in her poverty, whatever the particular meaning of poverty is in my life. I also pray that I would be given the opportunity to serve, and live, and simply be with people of the same mind. Or should I say, of the same heart.
For it is not easy to go against the challenges of the world, but with the right support and guidance, I am able to find my way to listen to Jesus in my heart and to obey His call.