The Mission Hub

The Pontifical Mission Societies include the Society for the
Propagation of the Faith, the Missionary Childhood Association, the Society of St.Peter Apostle, and the Missionary Union of Priests and Religious. These Societies promote a prayerfulmissionary spirit among baptized Catholics and to gather a fund of support for the evangelizing and pastoral programs of more than 1,150 local churches of the Developing World.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Widow’s Mite Comes to Life

In the parable of the Widow’s Mite, Jesus speaks to His followers of two types of people: a wealthy man and a widow. The wealthy man flaunts his riches, even in the temple, proclaiming his own greatness to any and all within the sound of his voice. He gives a great deal to support his congregation, but he can well afford it. No sacrifice is made.

The character of the widow in Jesus’ story has great significance for His time. Having lost her husband, this woman now had no means of support. She lived on the margins of society, perhaps begging to survive. Yet, when it came time to give, she dug deep, sacrificing her last mite – all she had – so that others might benefit.

This story was lived out in June on a mountainside in Uganda at the outstation called St. Tereza, where I was their “Honored Guest”. Though I protested that I was “just a girl from Hudson, MA 01749”, parishioners were determined to show me how grateful they were that I had come to their mud- walled church to share in their bi-annual Eucharistic celebration.

At the end of Mass, I was instructed to sit in front of the altar as people formed a line to greet me. As villagers came forward, they shook my hand, giving me gifts. A man stood at my right to relieve me of my treasures after the giver was thanked. He piled up the eggs, avocados, coffee beans, bananas and five live chickens that were placed in my lap.

An elderly woman approached, knelt before me and put her head in my lap, crying. I turned to my host, Fr. Cyril, to ask, “Why is she weeping?” His answer, “She has nothing to give you,” broke my heart. I lifted her face to tell her that because she had shared her faith and her liturgy with me, she had given me the world.

Just then, she thought of the rosary she was wearing around her neck, as many Ugandan women do. Her eyes lit up as she took it off and placed it over my head. It was all she had.

She gladly gave it not just to honor me, but to honor you as well. In that moment, she gave her precious possession to thank anyone who has ever prayed and sacrificed so that she could have a priest visit her village, even if it is only twice a year.

The rosary that I gave in return paled in meaning.

-Maureen Crowley Heil

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