Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:41-44)
Jesus is so delightful. Nothing escapes His notice….the story of the “widow’s mite” is a perfect example. He not only observed her with obvious love and kindness, but He deemed her example worthy of pointing out to His apostles…and to us.
When I think of this story, I believe that Jesus is speaking not only of money, but of everything we offer to God.
I know many people who have wonderful gifts of teaching and speaking and leadership and organization etc., who really make a difference in my parish and diocese. But, I’m not one of them. I don’t have those gifts.
It has always been that way. I was the quiet, compliant child who prayed that the teacher wouldn’t call on me, not because I didn’t know the answer, but because I knew my face would blush bright red as soon as I heard my name.
My gifts are quiet gifts. I love to talk to people one on one; I’m really interested in what they have to say. I try to notice the unique qualities in others, and to give sincere praise, because we all need encouragement. I can keep a secret forever, and oh, I smile….a lot. I always have. I didn’t even realize this until the yearbook crew in my junior high wrote one of those “wills” and by my name declared: “Patricia wills her ear to ear smile to……”
The years passed, and I guess I kept on smiling. But I didn’t do any of the big, important things that others around me were doing. That just wasn’t my way. So, I tried to think of what I might do for the Lord, and I decided that one thing I could easily do would be to deliberately smile at the people I encountered throughout my day. And so I made a point of offering warm smiles and a kind word to as many people as possible….especially the elderly, who always smiled back.
Then, I began to think that perhaps this was silly…all this smiling. “I don’t think I’m going to do this anymore, Lord,” I said one day. “I probably look like an idiot.”
I didn’t hear Jesus’ response until the next day, when I read the Letters to the Editor section of our newspaper. To my amazement, there was a lovely letter written by an older, retired gentleman who simply said that while he had been out shopping in the meat department of his local supermarket, a young woman had smiled at him, and that it had greatly lifted his spirits and made his day. He went on to say how such little things as a smile are so undervalued in our busy lifestyles, and that sometimes he passed several days without anyone smiling at him…and that he just wanted to say “thank-you.”
I was astonished by the letter, which even I could not write off as a coincidence. But most of all, I was touched by the graciousness of Jesus. All this time, He really had been watching me…just as He had observed the widow. He knew that I wasn’t rich in the gifts most esteemed by others, but He wanted me to know that He was still pleased with my “widow’s mite” of a smile.
Truly, in His Eyes, everything we try to do for love of Him has worth. Nothing is too small…not even a smile. So, if you think that you too are poor like me, look more closely and I know you will find a precious “coin” which will bring great joy to the Heart of Jesus.
When my parents died, within 13 days of each other, I hardly knew my son’s girlfriend (now fiancé.) But, at the second funeral (my dad’s) she showed up at the funeral home with dozens of delicious homemade cookies. She must have been up all night baking. They were just what we needed for a light breakfast before the services began. I have never forgotten her thoughtfulness, and she quickly endeared herself to my heart that day.
So, even if you can’t do great things by the world’s standards, don’t discount your widow’s mite. Only in Heaven will you learn its true value.
As for me, well I’m still smiling, with a sub-specialty in children and old people. ; )
But the One to Whom I give my biggest, most joyful smiles is Jesus, in the Most Blessed Sacrament, and I know He smiles right back at me.
The Smile of God, purchased with a widow’s mite!