O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
God the Father,
help us to hear the call of Christ the King
and to follow in his service,
whose kingdom has no end;
for he reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, one glory.
The earth is the Lord’s and all that fills it,
the compass of the world and all who dwell therein.
For he has founded it upon the seas
and set it firm upon the rivers of the deep.
‘Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord,
or who can rise up in his holy place?’
‘Those who have clean hands and a pure heart,
who have not lifted up their soul to an idol,
nor sworn an oath to a lie;
‘They shall receive a blessing from the Lord,
a just reward from the God of their salvation.’
Such is the company of those who seek him,
of those who seek your face, O God of Jacob.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now and shall be for ever. Amen.
Reading: Luke 21.1-4
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.’
We all like to think of ourselves as being generous. We like people to see us as generous of spirit as well as generous with our worldly goods. But … the question we are being asked to consider today is whether we even know what generosity is?
In the few verses preceding today’s reading Jesus denounces the motivations and the actions of the scribes. The scribes, those men of letters, were the expert lawyers of the Jewish tradition; they were the acknowledged and respected teachers of the law, both in the schools and in the courts. And yet, despite all that expertise and respect, the scribes were denounced by Jesus. The basis for that denunciation was their lack of generosity.
Jesus had seen the scribes in action. Jesus knew that they liked to dress up in fine clothes; to demand the respect and admiration of those they deemed inferior to themselves; to sound impressive with their verbose, yet meaningless, prayers; to exploit those weaker and poorer than themselves. We should not be surprised that Jesus told his disciples to: Beware of the scribes.
Then comes today’s reading: the story of the widow’s offering. These few verses tell a story that challenges us all to reconsider our supposed generosity. Jesus speaks of the rich who give little, contrasting them with the poor widow who gave all she had to live on. It is a sad fact that most of us give only when we have first assured our own comfort and security. Furthermore, as our worldly wealth grows our generosity diminishes. We become increasingly avaricious, even to the point of being hard-hearted and uncaring to those who are most needy.
Today we are being invited to change our priorities, our very way of thinking. Instead of giving what is left, of both ourselves and our possessions, Jesus is urging us to give in a spirit of true generosity, and without hesitation.
Let us pray that this most challenging of messages might touch our hearts and draw us closer to God as we share his love with others by sharing the overflowing bounty he has shared with us.
Prayers of Intercession
Blessed are you, eternal God, to be praised and glorified for ever.
Hear us as we pray for your holy catholic Church: make us all one, that the world may believe.
Grant that every member of the Church may truly and humbly serve you: that the life of Christ may be revealed in us.
Strengthen all who minister in Christ’s name: give them courage to proclaim your Gospel.
Inspire and lead those who hold authority in the nations of the world: guide them in the ways of justice and peace.
Make us alive to the needs of our community: help us to share each other’s joys and burdens.
Look with kindness on our homes and families: grant that your love may grow in our hearts.
Deepen our compassion for all who suffer from sickness, grief or trouble: in your presence may they find their strength.
We remember those who have died: Father, into your hands we commend them.
We praise you for all your saints who have entered your eternal glory: bring us all to share in your heavenly kingdom.
Prayer for the week
Lord, you have blessed the world
by sending your Son into our midst
and by making all things new in him.
We ask you to give all people
the courage and power we need
to share fully in his mission to the world
and to further his kingdom in the lives of all,
to the honour and glory of his name.
The Lord’s Prayer
Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.
For the healing of the nations,
Lord, we pray with one accord,
for a just and equal sharing
of the things that earth affords.
To a life of love in action
help us rise and pledge our word.
You, Creator-God, have written
your great name on humankind;
for our growing in your likeness
bring the life of Christ to mind;
that by our response and service
earth its destiny may find.
Fred Kaan (1929–2009)