Mark 12:38-44 | 32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B
My initial reaction after reading the story of the Widow’s Contribution in Mark was “God knows our heart.” The widow had an excuse not to give. She needed the few coins she had for food. But she wanted to give so badly that she gave it all, even at risk of starvation. The rich also gave, but they hadn’t been pushed to the edge of survival so their gifts didn’t reveal their hearts in the same way. God pulls off the wrapping on our motivations so He sees the real us (even when we don’t).
That is an important perspective in this story. But, when I did a little research, I came across a different point of view: whatever gifts (monetary, abilities, skills, resources) we’ve been given, given for the right reason, they are enough.
At first, I squirmed a little thinking about this. I want my gifts to grow and expand. I hope I want that to happen so they will glorify God, but sometimes I wonder if I haven’t just wrapped my motivations in shiny paper.
The widow wasn’t trying to save her gifts so she could expand them—perhaps thinking when she did, she could give more. Instead, she trusted God enough to know He’d take care of her, so she shared her meager stores. Talk about faith.
When we hoard our gifts, they stagnate. When we trust God with the gifts He has given us, they multiply. The story doesn’t tell us how the widow’s gift multiplied, but I am certain that it did.
But, we do know how the boy’s gift in the Feeding of the 5,000 multiplied. Rather than hoard his five loaves of bread and two fish, thinking it was such a little amount of food it couldn’t make a dent in feeding the massive crowd, the boy gave all his food for the entire day. As we know, not only was it enough, there were twelve baskets of leftovers. When we give unselfishly, God takes our offerings and works miracles. The boy himself didn’t feed the 5,000, but he allowed Jesus to work through him, and the miracle happened.
It’s when we allow God to work through us that the miracle happens. Mary said “yes” and Jesus was born. Jesus said “yes” to baptism and the cross, and death was defeated. In story after story in the scriptures, someone says “yes” to God and a miracle occurs. That “yes” is a surrender—a giving up of something, a long-held hope or desire or a hard-fought sense of control.
Our surrender allows God the space to do His work, which circles back to His gift of free will. When we surrender our desires, we use our gift of free will to choose God over ourselves. It’s not easy, and it runs contrary to our human-ness, but it’s the only way that our hearts are truly with Him—by our choice not His force.