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So there I am standing in the Temple in the first century, and a widow comes up to me and says, “Excuse me, are you a priest?” I said, “Yes, I am.” She then says, “I was going to make my annual donation to the Temple, but I only have two pennies. Do you think I should drop what I have left into the treasury or should I use this money to take care of my needs?” She asks a good question. I am sure I can give her good advice. I have lots of experience including ten years in the seminary, two scripture degrees, twenty-eight years in the ministry. With all those resources, I think I can muster up some helpful advice. I tell her that I think she should bring the two pennies to the marketplace. I tell her, “It is not a lot of money, but you will be able to buy a few crackers and a slice of cheese. In fact, they may see that you are poor and throw in a loaf of bread and a chicken. Merchants know that generosity goes a long way with God, and their business could use all the divine help it can get. If you put the two small coins in the treasury, they will be rubbing shoulders with gold and silver pieces. Your coins will be laughable in such company. The temple staff will never appreciate such a sacrifice. You will get more for your money if you bring your coins to the market.
She thanks me for my advice, goes to the treasury, and drops in her two copper pennies. I’m not upset. No one listens to me anyway. The reason I am not upset is that she did the right thing. She went against my better judgment, decided against my years of priesthood and scripture degrees. She did the right thing because little did she know that someone important was watching her.
Let me ask you this: How do you impress God? Think about that for a moment. God can click His fingers and create a new galaxy. How do you impress someone like that? What can you do to arise awe out of the Almighty? The widow in the Gospel just did with two pennies.
One day a mother bought her son a ticket to see his favorite band perform in Boston. She dropped him off at the door of the concert venue and then drove down the street to St. Clement where there was a Mass that evening. After Mass, she felt good about herself. She gave her son a gift that he will never forget, she said extra prayers that day in church, and the priest even gave a nice homily. She stayed a few minutes after the Mass to absorb some of the peace and divine words restore her soul. When it was about time to meet her son, she left the church walked to the curb of the street, and they towed her car. She was not aware that she parked in the “residential only” side of the road. Her whole world was suddenly in disarray. She had no idea where her car was, and her son would soon be wandering the streets of a strange city alone. Fear and panic struck simultaneously. She exercised her only option and walked over toward me. It just so happened that I was able to cobble together the right words that restored peace and order in her world. I simply said, “Get in the car; I’ll take you to the tow lot.” Of course, she didn’t want to put me out of my way, but I told her this is the way I meet the new parishioners. Needless to say, she was very grateful.
So here is my faith question: Why was I nice to her? I will tell you why. Because of the Gospel we just heard. The message made me realize that when I do something nice, someone very important may be watching. There will be a time in your life when you will be given an opportunity to contribute to the kingdom of God. And there we are standing there with a measly two pennies in your hands, a contribution so small that no one will ever notice it or care about it. But you put it in because, just maybe, someone important is watching.Back to All Homilies