04 November 2021

'I will bring my gifts in thanksgiving and love.' Sunday Reflections, 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B


The Widow's Mite
James Tissot [Wikipedia]

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, [England & Wales], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland)

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Gospel Mark 12:38-44 or 12:41-44 (English Standard Version Anglicised: India)

[In his teaching Jesus said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the market-places and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at feasts, who devour widows' houses and for a pretence make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”]

And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”


Léachtaí i nGaeilge

Head of a Peasant Woman in a Green Shawl
Vincent van Gogh [Web Gallery of Art]  

There are moments that remain a grace from God for a person for the rest of his life, moments when he was simply an observer rather than a participant. One such moment for me happened one night more than 45 years ago in Ozamiz City, Mindanao. It was quite late and I was looking out through an upstairs window in the convent (presbytery/rectory) of the Cathedral. As we say in Ireland, 'there wasn't a sinner to be seen' on the cathedral plaza except for two persons. One was a man, a beggar, maybe in his 30s. The other was Gregoria, known to everyone as 'Guria', a 'simple' woman and very gentle who would often wander in and out of classrooms in schools, doodle on the board and leave without having disturbed anyone. 

I noticed Guria, who was perhaps in her 40s, approach the man. She had two small pieces of bread, what is called pandesal in the Philippines. She gave one to the beggar, just like St Martin of Tours who, when still a  soldier, cut his ample cloak in two and giving one half to a beggar. (St Martin's feast day is 11 November.)

St Martin and the Beggar

What Guria did was pure, unselfish love. And yet she was probably unaware of this and certainly totally unaware of the fact that someone was observing her. She did not have a strong gift of reflection whereas God has given this to me and to most of us. But we don't always use that gift.

St Mark tells us, Jesus sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the people putting money into the offering box. And he saw 'Guria' there. Perhaps the widow in the gospel looked like the peasant woman in Van Gogh's painting above. But it would seem that his disciples hadn't observed her until Jesus drew their attention to her.

It is said that St Martin, after he had shared his cloak with the beggar, saw Jesus in a dream wearing that half-cloak. The reality is that Jesus Christ the Risen Lord shows himself frequently to us, if we have eyes to see, as he showed himself to me through Guria more than 45 years ago, and on many other similar occasions down the years.

A Bronze Mite

In Thanksgiving and Love
by Jude Nnam and the CACA Choir
(Catholic Archdiocesan Choir Abuja)

Abuja is the capital of Nigeria.


aodhan43 said...

3 bliain ó shin , bhí mé ag siopadóireacht i Lidl i mbré .Bhí fear leasmuigh den sioba ón Rúmáin measaim . Ní raibh mórán Béarla aige ach stop mé leis i gcónaí agus tabhairfaidh mé deontas dhó ar mo bhealach amach . Bhí obair ar siúil sa teach againn agus tamaill tar éis mé an siopadóireacht a chur sna cófraí bhraith mé nach raibh mo wedding ring ar mo mhéar .Rinne mé agus na daoine sa teach iarrach teach air i ngach áit ach gan toradh . Lá nó dhó ina dhiaidh nuair a bhí mé iLidl arís , agus nach raibh slua ann , ceistigh mé bainisteoir ar eagla gur caill mé an fáinne sa tsiopa . Cuir sí cúpla ceist orm faoi na focail a bhí laistigh den fáinne. Bhí sé aice . Duairt mé leithi go mba liom duais éigin a thabhairt don té a thug isteach é Níl an siopa lonnaithe i gceanntair saibhir . Dúirt sí liom gurb an Rómánach leasmuigh don doras a thóg suas é , go bhfaca sé é ag titim ó mo lámh agus mé ag cur na messages sa carr boot , ach bhí mé imithe sar a bhí sé ábalta teacht chugam ??? Aodhán.

Fr Seán Coyle said...

In his comment in Irish my friend Aodhán tells of giving something to a beggar, probably a Romanian, after coming out of a supermarket. Later, at home, Aodhán noticed that his wedding ring was missing. He and his family searched all over the house but couldn't find it. Next time he went to the supermarket he asked the manager if a wedding ring had been found in the store. The manager asked Aodhán if there was an inscription inside his ring. He told him what was inscribed on his ring and the manager said that he had it. It had been returned by the beggar who had seen it falling from Aodhán's hand but couldn't catch up with him before he drove away. Aodhán wanted to give a reward to the beggar but was unable to locate him.

Go raibh maith agat, a Aodháin.