Deacon Prodencio Bognay reads from the Gospel of Luke (21: 1-4) in which Jesus draws attention to the gift a poor widow gives to the temple treasury.
Prodencio says, as we remember St Cecilia today, we hear this Gospel story about the poor widow being exulted by Jesus, not for giving more than others contributed, but simply for giving what she had to live on. We can probably easily make the connection that martyrs, like St Cecilia, gave everything they had, including their own life.
Prodencio points out, however, that martyrdom made sense only during those years when people were persecuted for adhering to religion which was not approved by the rulers. Nowadays religious persecution comes in different forms, but martyrdom is no longer the ideal way of giving all of ourselves. On the other hand, just like the poor widow, who did not need to be martyred just to prove she is giving herself fully, all of us are invited to give our full selves for the sake of the Gospel, without necessarily becoming martyrs.
One challenge we face when it comes to this, is what we understand to be the Gospel. Today, Prodencio says, we still have the tendency to think that giving our whole self for the sake of the Gospel means becoming a full-time ordained minister or professed religious. He finds it interesting that Jesus recognised and exulted how the widow was giving her whole self to the Gospel. He isn’t suggesting we give all our money and possessions to the church but rather says this is a recognition of the great happiness the widow has in giving all that she can.
In our own experience we know our own level of satisfaction with our work depends on how much we give our self. We know exactly how it feels when we do our work just for the sake of obligation. We know the big difference in our feeling when we simply put our full self into whatever we do. It appears that this is what Jesus recognised with the widow.
Prodencio closes saying, ‘may we, then, have those glimpses of the good news as we continue to keep God’s invitation for us to give our full selves’.