November 25, 2019
When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins. He said, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.” (Luke 21:1-4)
I know I have shared this story in the past, but it is so seldom we have the opportunity to see the gospel replayed right before our eyes. This experience from Haiti was such an opportunity and left a lasting impression on me:
Mass was generally only celebrated every 3-4 weeks at each location, since just two priests must cover both churches and all nine of the chapels. When there was to be a Mass celebrated at a given chapel, a bell was rung to alert the people in the area. The bell was rung two hours prior to the service so that the people living in the area could prepare themselves and make the trip to their chapel. A number of people needed to travel the mountain paths 1-1/2 to 2 hours on foot, so they needed the advance notice. When they arrived they were dressed in the very best clothes they owned – clothes they wore only for church services. Shoes were shined, although dusty from the walk. Little girls were in dresses and had bows in their hair. They packed the chapel – a chapel close to collapsing following the earthquake thirteen months earlier. And they praised God with their enthusiastic responses to prayer. They raised their voices in song – singing loudly and with real joy.
Finally, it was powerful to see Scripture come to life: “this poor widow put in more than all the rest…” These very poor people reached into their pockets or into tattered change purses and pulled out a coin or two to drop in the collection basket – gladly and with smiles on their faces. When the basket arrived at my seat near the back of the Church, there was about $4.00 total.
God was truly present.