Authentic Personhood

Widow’s Mite: 6th century image

9th Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday

Mark 12:38-44

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.”

The scribes who liked to parade their status lived on the outside, in the smokescreen of public image. In contrast, the widow commended by Jesus acted in accordance with the image of God imprinted on her heart.

And what is the image of God? “All mine are thine, and thine are mine” (John 17:10). Selfless love and dispossession are at the heart of the Trinity. The extravagant generosity of the widow forgetting herself and giving away her entire livelihood mirrored the divine poverty.

The truth of the heart cannot be detected by eyes and ears. Jesus, with the eyes of the spirit, “saw” the mountain of gold deposited by the widow in contrast with the mites tossed in by the rich. 

The widow beloved by Jesus is a mirror of authentic personhood, for self-divestiture is Trinitarian. Emptiness and fullness are two sides of the same coin stamped with the divine image. Emptied of self, the false boundaries of the ego yield to the mutual indwelling of persons and the fullness of divine love. If the Trinity is truly “all in all” (I Corinthians 15:28), we lose nothing and gain everything in giving ourselves away. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:34).

-GMC

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