Gospel: Mk 12:38-44
As Jesus was teaching, he also said to them, “Beware of those teachers of the law, who enjoy walking around in long robes and being greeted in the marketplace; and who like to occupy reserved seats in the synagogues; and the first places at feasts. They even devour the widow’s and the orphan’s goods, while making a show of long prayers. How severe a sentence they will receive!”
Jesus sat down opposite the temple treasury, and watched the people dropping money into the treasury box; and many rich people put in large offerings. But a poor widow also came and dropped in two small coins.
Then, Jesus called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all those who gave offerings. For all of them gave from their plenty; but she gave from her poverty, and put in everything she had, her very living.”
The battle lines are slowly being drawn. There is Jesus and His followers on the one side, and the Pharisees and the teachers of the law on the other. It is bound to happen. Tension after tension escalated between them whenever Jesus does His public ministry. And so swipes are made of each other. Jesus criticized the favorite past time of the teachers of the law, that is, to play pious all holy. Jesus seeks to tear down their pretensions. For there is no greater spiritual danger than that coming from someone convinced of his or her contrived holiness. And so Jesus directs the gaze of His listeners to the nobility and greatness of small things done with a sincere heart. The offering of the poor widow that is small in worth but big in generosity trumped all the big offerings of the rich who gave from surplus in contrast to her generosity amidst want. This is where true greatness lie. It is unpretentious and not conscious of itself.