Then I looked, and there was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion! And with him were one hundred forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder; the voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, and they sing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins; these follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They have been redeemed from humankind as first fruits for God and the Lamb, and in their mouth no lie was found; they are blameless.
The Lord's is the earth and its fullness,
the world and all its peoples.
It is he who set it on the seas;
on the waters he made it firm. (R./)
Who shall climb the mountain of the Lord?
Who shall stand in his holy place?
The man with clean hands and pure heart,
who desires not worthless things. (R./)
He shall receive blessings from the Lord
and reward from the God who saves him.
Such are the men who seek him,
seek the face of the God of Jacob. (R./)
Jesus looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on."
To draw near to God calls for unconditional commitment. During the last week of the Church year, examples of such courage are cited from Revelation. The martyrs have faced death as everyone must, but they died because of their commitment to Jesus Christ, and their names a listed among the 144,000 chosen ones who follow the Lamb. The Greek text calls them "virgins," in the sense of giving themselves totally to the one they love, like a bride to her bridegroom on their wedding day.
The trials of life can be seen positively as purifying our faith. Even sins can lead us to trust less in ourselves and rely more fully on God. In the end, we will be among the numberless throng who join in the Lamb's marriage feast, to fully and eternally enjoy the love of God. At times this hope may inspire us to go the extra mile and give our shirt as well as our cloak to one who needs it more. (Mt 5:40-42).
The gospel tells about the generous poor widow who offers her last two copper coins for the upkeep of the Temple. Jesus declares that by giving what she could not afford, what she gave was worth more than the richest donation. Are we prepared, in case of urgent need, to give until it hurts? This would be following the spirit of Jesus, who gave himself totally on the cross for us. Only in the end will we truly know the real value of what ever we have managed to contribute, as we make our way through life.
The widow who gives her all to support the temple reminds us of how Jesus who went on to give all he had, his very life, for others. Although what she gave had little monetary value, her gift meant more than the larger gifts of others, because she gave all she had.
Generosity of spirit is not easy to measure. People who seem to be doing little may actually be making more effort than others who seem to be doing a lot. At the end of the day, only the Lord can measure generosity, because he alone knows what each is capable of giving. Whereas we can measure only what is tangible and visible, God looks deeper, into the heart. The widow's coins would make little impression on those who saw them, but her gift so impressed Jesus that he singled her out as an example. Even when we feel we have little to offer, actually giving that little is what the Lord wants of us.