Two Faces of Offerings

Weekly Missionary Reflection
32nd Week in Ordinary Time, 07 November 2021
St. Leonard of Noblac Feast Day

1Kings 17:10-16; Ps. 146:7,8-9a,9bc-10; Heb. 9:24-28; Mark 12:38-44

Last week the story was about theory, today it is about practice. From understanding to implementing the Law. The Lord loves irony. The scribes are confronted with a poor widow. One devours widows’ houses, the other gives everything she has to God.  One robs the other offers. One steals, the other gives.

There are six (an imperfect number) weaknesses of the scribes: they like to walk around in robes of honor (“long robes”). Clothes are symbols of identity. A long robe represents an honored status. Wearing it makes them greeted with respect in the marketplaces. They even show off their status before God. They like to have the best seat in the synagogues. Banquets are places for showing off their pride and status. They would sit beside the host in a banquet. The point is they would like to be recognized, they thirst for acceptance. They desire respect. Officially they are law consultants and defenders for the “weak”. But the advice of law sometimes is highly cost.  Instead of defending, they rob the widows’ property. They say long prayers for the sake of appearance.

In contrast to the educated and elite-respected, a poor widow is presented. In the previous reflection, Jesus summarized the point of the Law as the command to love the Lord totally. The poor widow has shown exactly the same total love. She gives everything she has, she donates the money supporting her life of that day. That is the symbol of her total love for God. She performs the point of the Law that Jesus has taught. Not only that. By giving all she has, she gives her total life. From this scene, the widow is presented as an ideal disciple of Jesus: presenting the life for God! That is the greatest devotion to the Divine.

Anyway, this story has another meaning. We have to move from symbolic meaning to more realistic fact. Besides praising, Jesus also criticizes. Jesus reveals the order and system injustice of Jewish worship in this story. In complimenting the widow’s self-offering, Jesus also mourns her fate. How can the poor widow be demanded to donate her money to the Temple? Something wrong with such a system. There is a “religious obligation” which becomes a burden and even impoverishes. Jesus denounces such a system as the “den of robbers” (Mark. 11:17). Apart from being robbed by religious scholars, the poor are impoverished by the Temple offering system. This story has two sides. On one side the story asks you and me to imitate the widow: to totally serve and love God. On another side, it invites all of us to always strive for the order of life together and religious life which is more just, equal, and prosperous for all. You and I are invited to criticize all kinds of oppression and impoverishment in any institution and system, including those labeled with piety and holiness.

(Hortensius Mandaru – Indonesia Bible Society)


Lord, our Father, I present my today prayer, thought, word, work, joy, and sorrow in the unity with Your Son, Jesus Christ, who always presents Himself in the Eucharist for the world salvation. May the Holy Spirit, as the soul of Jesus, also lead and give me the strength today so that I am ready to be the witness of Your love.

Together with St. Mary, Mother of Jesus, and the Church, I specially present my prayer to our Pope and Indonesian Church prayer apostles of this month:

For Evangelization intention:
For those suffering from depression: May those who suffer from depression and mental exhaustion receive the support and guidance to a better life. We pray …

For Indonesian Churches intention:
Appreciation of the faith: May Catholic families be enabled to appreciate their faith in life in a better way. We pray …

Special Intention for the year of St. Joseph:
Please unite us with our brothers and sisters who have died and pray for us, as St. Joseph blessed the ministry of the Son. We pray…


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