Monday of the Thirty-fourth week in Ordinary Time
“There was also a poor widow”
Mercy is not worthy of praise merely on account of the abundance of its benefactions but when it proceeds from an upright and merciful mind. There are people who give away and hand out a great deal but who are not considered merciful by God; and there are people who have nothing, who possess nothing, but who feel pity towards all in their hearts. It is these who are considered perfectly merciful before God and, indeed, that is what they are. So don’t say: “I have nothing to give to the poor”; don’t distress yourself by thinking that, because of this, you cannot be merciful. If you have something, give what you have; if you have nothing, give with a truly merciful intention, though it be but a morsel of dry bread, and it will be considered before God as an act of perfect mercy.
Our Lord did not praise those who cast a great deal into the chest of offerings; he praised the widow for having put into it two small coins which, with an upright mind, she had taken from her poverty to throw into the treasury of God. It is the man who has pity in his heart for his fellow human beings who is considered merciful before God. An upright intention with no externl effects is worth more than many stunning works made without that upright intention.
Youssef Bousnaya (c.869-979), Syrian monk