True Devotion

Theodore the Tyro, Great Martyr
Luke 20:46-47; 21:1-4

Today we see a rather striking contrast between the affectation of the scribes and the humble but quite straightforward generosity of the widow. While the former make a great outward show of their religion, the widow quietly gives all she has. And she is the one who Jesus holds up as an example of true devotion. Saint John Chrysostom writes:

When the widow put into the collection box only two small coins, the Master did not give her a recompense worth only two coins. Why was that? Because He paid no attention to the amount of the money. What He did heed was the wealth of her soul. If you calculate by the value of her money, her poverty is great. If you bring her intention into the light, you will see that her store of generosity defies description.

Religion can be a rather ambiguous thing and the scribes show us the dangers associated with it. While we may not all go about in long robes, none of us are immune to the subtle dangers of pride that can accompany religious observances. Jesus praises this woman not simply for what she did, but for her sincerity in doing it. And, in doing so, He calls us to cultivate the same purity of her heart that lies at the foundation of true generosity.

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The Holy Gospel according to Saint Luke 20:46-47; 21:1-4:
The Lord said to his disciples, “Beware of the scribes, who like to go about in long robes, and love salutations in the market places and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury; and he saw a poor widow put in two copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all the living that she had.” Having said this, he proclaimed, “He who has ears let him hear.”