The gospel passage of Mark this week warns against all that may be superficial or pretentious in our living. An image is given of the scribes ‘who like to walk about in long robes, to be greeted respectfully in the market squares, to take the front seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets”. We can all identify with those we regard as false, not ‘walkin’ the talk’, as a phrase goes. And indeed many of us may have been guilty of behaving in such a way.
As the passage progresses Mark then gives the example of a poor widow who gives away all the money she has. This woman had the excuse of strutting around and demanding respect as her pain of loss and her poverty may have justified her behaving in such a manner. All that she possessed she gave, she was already poor so she could have had the excuse of holding onto that one penny; she was a widow and a woman who was not always treated as equal. But her inner self was far wealthier than those of the scribes referred to in the first part of the passage. Her deep faith was her gift, she was emptied of all that might get in the way of her relationship with God and detached from all unnecessary items or any unreal expectations that demand of others to treat us a certain way. Her motivation of giving that ‘one penny’, all that she had, was out of her concern for others, her deep sense of community, her trust in God and her desire to live out God’s law of love of others.
This widow in her quiet, gentle manner was strong; Jesus sensed her presence and noticed her in the synagogue that day. She simply was who God was calling her to be and because of that her offering was far more valuable than any other offering in the synagogue on that occasion.
Sr Edel Murphy O.P