Some fellows are having a conversation about Jesus coming back to earth.
Someone asks, “If you knew Jesus was coming back in four weeks, what would you do?”
One guy says, “I’d empty out my savings, quit my job, and invite my friends to come fly with me to the great vacation spots around the world. We would all enjoy each other’s company together.”
Another guy says, “Well, the diet goes out the window. So do all my bills. No point in paying them off now. And I’ll take my wife on that shopping spree I know she’s always wanted to take. Together we’ll buy gifts for all our friends and tell them we love them.”
The last guy hasn’t said anything yet, so they insist he speak up. If you knew Jesus was coming in four weeks, what would you do? And he says, “I would go to my mother-in-law’s house for the four weeks.”
Everyone is puzzled. “Why would you want to go to your mother-in-law’s home?”
“Because that will make it the longest four weeks of my life.”
Some of us may feel like we need just a little more time before we see Jesus.
I must say I have a certain range of feelings reading Peter’s letter where he talks about living in such a way that it will speed the coming of the day of the Lord – even though that Day is bringing judgment and the destruction of the heavens and earth. That might make some people begin to think of calling their mother-in-law this afternoon.
What is Jesus doing while he waits for that Day? The Gospel of Mark has a glimpse of him, sitting down opposite the Temple, watching people as he waits. When Jesus is sitting and watching us, I call that a judgment seat. And in this story he makes an interesting judgment.
There are people putting big offerings into the Temple treasury. Then there is a widow who drops in two copper coins, a few cents.
You might think Jesus would notice the size of the gifts. Instead he makes a comment about the source of those gifts. He says most of the people that day gave offerings out of their wealth. But the widow gave out of her poverty. And that impresses Jesus. He is noticing the source of the gifts more than the gifts themselves.
St. Anthony of Padua said “Poverty is true riches. So precious is poverty that God’s Only-Begotten Son came on earth in search of it. In heaven he had superabundance of all goods. Nothing was lacking there but poverty.”
You might find that as odd as I did when I first read it. But let me suggest a reason St. Anthony might be right.
Poverty is what leaves you absolutely dependent on someone else. That is something we must learn if we say we’re going to follow Christ. It is the kind of close relationship Jesus is looking for. He might consider it well worth the journey he made in order to find it.
The poor you will always have with you – yes, so that we will always have the opportunity to be channels of God’s love and mercy to those who need it. There is a great value in that for us.
The well-off supporters of the Temple that day Jesus was watching didn’t miss the money they gave. They still had… their wealth.
That widow gave out of her poverty, knowing it was all she had to live on. But also knowing there would be more where that came from, because she trusted in the provision of her Creator. She was expecting every moment to see the Day of the Lord. She could afford it.