Divine Dialogue of God With the Soul
We can probably all remember times when we were children when someone, an aunt, maybe, gave us a present for our birthday that didn’t suit us. At first we might have been upset or hurt about it, until Mom told us, “Now, now, it’s the thought that counts.” How many times have we said that to ourselves under similar circumstances as adults? “Not much of a gift, but, after all, it’s the thought that counts.” It’s a small consolation, and we would never say it aloud to the person directly, but we can’t help thinking it.
This Sunday’s Gospel (Mark 12: 41-44) shows us a real event (not a parable) when Jesus and His disciples are in the temple and there is a situation not unlike those we remember with a wince. They are sitting near the place where the faithful place offerings in a basket, which were to be used for the temple and the priests. The offering would signify the giver’s devotion to God–not at all unlike the basket that’s passed at Church each week during ‘The Offertory.’ I suspect there can be a certain amount of embarrassment for someone who places a bill in the basket and notices that it’s much smaller than the bill given by the next-door neighbor in the pew. Times don’t change much, do they?
Jesus and His disciples are watching the people placing their offerings in the temple basket. They can’t help noticing the poor widow who drops in two small coins, very small coins, St. Mark notes. Jesus tells his disciples that her gift amounted to all she had to live on.
I wonder if she spent the hour before she went to the temple praying about this offering. Did she consider that if she put in both coins she would have no bread to go with her tea for supper? Or did she remind herself that if those coins go, she won’t be able to buy the small packet of healing balm for her aching legs that will now keep her awake all night? With no money now she won’t have oil for the Sabbath lamp that she should light tomorrow evening. Perhaps she did think of all this, but in the end, her love for God raised her up and she was convicted to give all she had to live on. She knew that, small and insignificant as it was, it would be a gift pleasing to God because He sees the heart. What she didn’t know was that God Himself, in Jesus, would be watching her make this gift and the whole world would one day see it as the perfect gift to God: the gift of oneself.
Do you think Jesus will ever say to us when we come to Him empty handed, Well, don’t feel too bad, my child; it’s the thought that counts. No. When we find ourselves having broken our lenten promises to Him and bring our broken heart as our only gift, will He say, Too bad, try again. After all, it’s the thought that counts ? Of course, no. When we make a resolution after the Sacrament of Reconciliation that we will never commit that sin again, and then we do, at our next Communion will Jesus say, What about that promise you made last Saturday? Well, I suppose it’s the thought that counts. No. And when we kneel before Him with absolutely nothing to give Him because we have been too busy to even think of Him these last days, will he say to this disciples, Look at him—he has nothing to give. But, well, it’s the thought that counts, isn’t it? Again, no.
I think He will say, Look. I see your heart. I know your heart. And I accept this as a gift of perfect trust on your part, because I know that if you had more to give, you would give it. When you give your emptiness, it won’t shut off your electricity. And when you give your nothingness, it won’t mean your last meal. What all this does mean is that you are learning to accept your poverty of soul, and your need for Me in all things. And that’s the gift that counts.
Don’t you think that’s what He says to you when you come fallen, wounded and worn to a frazzle? And a very good prayer is,
Jesus, take me as I am. This is what I am, who I am today. But I won’t stop loving You, as I know You won’t stop loving me. We have a wonderful thing going here, and I will never give it up. If ever I get lost, just remember to come find Me. I’ll be the one out there in the dark, with my empty hand in Mary’s, waiting for You.
Have a blessed, trustful week.