November 7, 2009


32nd Sunday - B
Mark 12:38-44

The Widow who Offers Her Life to God

The English translation of the currency in Mark 12:42 does not provide a clear idea of how little money the poor widow puts in the treasury. In the Greek text, we learn that she puts in two lepta, which are worth 1/64 (one-sixty-fourth) of a denarius - a day's salary of a regular laborer. [1]

She may have offered just a tiny amount of money, but it's "her whole livelihood." (v. 44) In fact, the word bios used for livelihood also means "life." This double meaning of the word suggests that she offers to God more than just what she has to live on, but her very life. For this trusting generosity, Jesus praises her, commenting "This poor widow put in more than all the other contributors." (v.43)

In the larger context of the entire Gospel according to Mark, the disciples of Jesus have given up their livelihood when they abandons everything to follow him (1:16-20; 2:13-14). Then, throughout the Gospel, especially after each time Jesus predicts his passion and death, Jesus invites them to give up their lives in serving other (9:33-37; 10:41-44), and in carrying the cross and follow him (8:34; 10:38-40). Now, he points out to them an example in the trusting and generous widow who gives all she has, even her life. [2]

[1] Francis J. Moloney. The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002; footnote 168, p. 247.
[2] Ibid., p. 247.

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