Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Sacrifice of Christ


In today’s Gospel (Mark 12:38-44) Jesus praises a poor widow who, dropping a coin into the temple treasury, gave considerably less than the wealthy people who were putting in large sums. He praises her because she gave “from her poverty” and not from her “surplus.” This is the way God gives. Jesus, according to St. Paul, “became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich,” (2 Corinthians 8:9), rich in God’s love and grace. As we pray for the pilgrim Church on earth, that its charity may witness to God’s love, let us reflect on part of Pope Benedict’s Message for Lent 2008 in which he talks about today’s Gospel.

Almsgiving teaches us the generosity of love. Saint Joseph Benedict Cottolengo forthrightly recommends: “Never keep an account of the coins you give, since this is what I always say: if, in giving alms, the left hand is not to know what the right hand is doing, then the right hand, too, should not know what it does itself”. In this regard, all the more significant is the Gospel story of the widow who, out of her poverty, cast into the Temple treasury “all she had to live on” (Mk 12,44). Her tiny and insignificant coin becomes an eloquent symbol: this widow gives to God not out of her abundance, not so much what she has, but what she is. Her entire self.

We find this moving passage inserted in the description of the days that immediately precede Jesus’ passion and death, who, as Saint Paul writes, made Himself poor to enrich us out of His poverty (cf. 2 Cor 8,9); He gave His entire self for us. Lent, also through the practice of almsgiving, inspires us to follow His example. In His school, we can learn to make of our lives a total gift; imitating Him, we are able to make ourselves available, not so much in giving a part of what we possess, but our very selves. Cannot the entire Gospel be summarized perhaps in the one commandment of love?