SERMON OF THE WEEK August 14, 2011
- Next Sunday, August 14, is the second Sunday after Transfiguration of our Lord at Mount Tabor. Gospel reading is from Mark 12:38-44.
Topic: "The widow who gave the most when she gave the least."
Gospel Reading: (Mark 12:12:38-44)
38 As he taught, Jesus said, Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, 39 and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 40 They devour widows houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.
The Widows Offering
41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything all she had to live on.
The widow who is mentioned in today's gospel is not mentioned by her name but her story is mentioned in two gospels, namely, Mark 12:41-44 and Luke 21:1-2. The story is covered in total just five verses.
The incident took place in a Temple where Jesus was present and sitting where the offerings were put in. A poor widow came and put two small coins as her offerings. Jesus watching this told his disciples, "She has put in more into the treasury than all others. They gave out of their wealth, but she out of her poverty and just everything she had to live on."
What God expects from us? The gospel mainly talks about three things: (1) God is interested in our giving,(2) God is interested in our attitudes; and (3) God is interested in our sacrifices in giving. He does not expect all to give the same.
1. God is interested in our giving: God has given us money, talents, and time, and wants to see what we do with what he has given us. He is interested in our giving because when it is done the right way, it is an act of worship. It also shows the extent of our generosity.
2. God is also interested in our attitudes and motives than the gift in itself: We cannot give God anything because God owns all what we have. We can only return to God what he has given to us.
3. God is interested in our sacrifice to him: In today's gospel story about the widow who put two small coins in the Temple's treasury, Jesus praised her small offering over others who came and gave much more. The reason is that Jesus saw in the widow's gift something that he did not see in the others gifts. Jesus saw real sacrifice and the unselfishness in her gift. She held back nothing. Hers was a real sacrifice to God. Remember, we give God every year much less than we spend on bad habits.
Giving money is not the only thing we can sacrifice. We can also sacrifice in prayer time, attendance, and service. God does not expect all to give the same either. God does not expect the poor and the rich to give the same. The widow in the gospel did not give as much as the others who came to the Temple. A fair share to help the poor, the sick, the needy and other charities for social good is what God expects from us.
Jesus praised the generosity of the widow who gave only two small coins. Jesus praised her when she went away never knowing what the Lord has said about her deed.
In verse 41, we read about the rich people who also give. They pay more. Jesus is not putting them down but praised the widow's offering more. The woman was completely unselfish and has demonstrated great faith in God. She gave all she had just as Jesus gave all he had and gave his life for our sins.
Jesus blessed this widow in that she showed herself to be more of a disciple of Jesus than many of the rich contributors who have their names carved in expensive marbles for remembering their deeds.
The plain truth is that this widow has given the largest offering. She gave extravagently what she could't afford --she gave her all.
Rev. Dr. V Kurian Thomas Valiyaparambil