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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Saturday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

1st Reading (2Tim 4:1-8): Beloved: I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power: proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths. But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances; put up with hardship; perform the work of an evangelist; fulfill your ministry.

For I am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance.
Responsorial Psalm: 70
R/. I will sing of your salvation.
My mouth shall be filled with your praise, with your glory day by day. Cast me not off in my old age; as my strength fails, forsake me not.

But I will always hope and praise you ever more and more. My mouth shall declare your justice, day by day your salvation.

I will treat of the mighty works of the Lord; o God, I will tell of your singular justice. O God, you have taught me from my youth, and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds.

So will I give you thanks with music on the lyre, for your faithfulness, o my God! I will sing your praises with the harp, o Holy One of Israel!
Versicle before the Gospel (Mt 5:3): Alleluia. Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Mk 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.”

«A poor widow also came and put in two small coins»

Fr. Enric PRAT i Jordana (Sort, Lleida, Spain)

Today, as in Jesus' times, some pious persons —and even more so, some religious “professionals”— may be tempted by a kind of spiritual hypocrisy. This is evidenced through self-conceited attitudes, which we try to justify by our feeling better than all the rest: after all, we are the believers, the ones who practice..., the pure ones! If nothing else, at times, deep inside our hearts, we may feel like that; without, however, “making a show of being praying” or, even less, trying to “devour anybody's goods”.

In sharp contrast with the masters of the law, the Gospel presents a simple and almost insignificant gesture on the part of a poor widow that provokes Jesus' admiration: “A poor widow also came and put in two small coins” (Mk 12:42). The actual value of her donation is almost nil, but the woman's decision is admirable, heroic: she gives everything she has.

With this gesture, God and the others went ahead of her and of her own needs. She fully let herself in the hands of Providence. She had nothing else to rely upon because, quite willingly, she had given it all to the service of God and to the attention of the poor. Jesus valued her generosity and her desire to praise God and help the poor, as the most important offering of all that had been made —perhaps, most ostentatiously— in that Temple.

Salvation is to be found in the nucleus of our own conscience, when we decide to open ourselves to God and live at the disposal of mankind; and when the election value is not given by the quality or quantity of the work made, but by the purity of intention and loving generosity.