You know, every time we hear this story about the widow’s mite, the story is equated with the call to stewardship. That’s the classic explanation of the text. And there’s nothing wrong with that explanation. I might even go so far as to preach it that way myself on occasion. But honestly, I don’t think the story about the widow’s mite is about stewardship at all. Yes, it’s about treasure and giving and all of that. But what kind of treasure? Giving what?
I think to get the accurate picture of what’s going on here, we have to ask why the Church would give us this little vignette at the end of the Church year, in the very last week of Ordinary Time. That’s the question I found myself asking when I looked at today’s readings. Well, first of all, it’s near the end of Luke’s Gospel so that may have something to do with it. But I think there’s a reason Luke put it at the end also. I mean, in the very next chapter we are going to be led into Christ’s passion and death, so why pause this late in the game to talk about charitable giving?
I think the key here is to figure out why the woman would have done what she did. Why would she, a poor widow without anyone to take care of her, why would she have tossed her last two coins into the treasury? It’s totally irrational when you think about it. But I think maybe, just maybe, she gave everything because she was used to sacrificing for the one she loved, which until recently would have been her husband. Now she doesn’t have anyone left to give everything for, except for God alone. The love she had for her husband has to go somewhere, it doesn’t just disappear, so now she can give everything for God.
In this last week of the Church year, we have to hear the widow telling us that there is something worth giving everything for, and that something is our relationship with Christ our God. Here at the end of the Church year, we are being invited to look back on our lives this past year and see what we have given. How much of ourselves have we poured out for the life of faith? What have we given of ourselves in service? What has our prayer life been like? Have we trusted Jesus to forgive our sins by approaching the Sacrament of Penance? Have we resolved to walk with Christ in good times and in bad?
In short, have we poured out everything we have, every last cent, every widow’s mite, for our life with Christ? Have we given our whole livelihood? Or have we held something back, giving merely of our surplus wealth?