The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
November 7th, 2021 – 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Mark 12:38-44
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We all live with a purpose. That purpose can change during our lives – sometimes almost daily. In today’s gospel we are introduced to two types of people. The first are those who are in “high places.” (They are called “scribes” meaning that they were on the payroll of the Temple.) They enjoy status and privilege and seemingly one primary purpose guides them: solidifying their own status and fulfilling their personal needs.
They live fully for themselves. They offer to God and God’s work only their surplus, their leftovers. God plays no major role in their lives. They may try to appear holy, but they are not. I would classify them as “show-offs.”
In contrast to them Jesus described a “poor widow.” She occupies a class of persons with the least prestige in that society. She has no husband who would give her a feeling of importance and status. And she has no extra stash of money to buy her anything valuable. Apparently, she has a few coins, which she generously contributes to God’s work. In other words, she lives not for herself, but generously for others.
She stands alongside other women in the gospels who are models of authentic holiness. Recall the woman at the well, the woman who anointed the body of Jesus before his death, the women who courageously stood at the foot of the cross and in today’s gospel, “the poor widow” who gave her all for the enactment of God’s purposes. And don’t forget Mary, his mother.
We do well to wonder what happened to the role of women in the Church over all the centuries when the gospels were preached. It’s worthwhile to ask if their presence and importance as women was adequately considered in the life of the Church.
The poor widow is not unlike many women over the centuries who were quietly dedicated to serving the needs of others. Mothers and grandmothers would be at the top of that list. How much are these women taken for granted, unacknowledged or not even noticed? Both in Church and in society? We certainly live at a time when their presence and importance is less overlooked than in earlier times. But still, is it valued enough? I don’t think so.
©David M. Thomas, PhD