Today we honour the memory of Blessed John Dominic de Banchini, another Dominican who almost didn’t make it into the novitiate, because he had a tendency to stammer and stutter. In one of his letters he wrote that his speech impediment threatened to limit his vocation, but through the intercession of Saint Catherine of Siena he was healed. John Dominic was created a cardinal in 1407 and became archbishop of Ragusa in Italy in 1408. John Dominic’s life was one of holiness and of great influence in the Church and in the Order, and his life revealed the power of God’s grace. His simple trust in God and his perseverance are a source of inspiration to Dominicans and to all people. He died on 10th June 1420 and was beatified in 1837.
We live in a society which can hardly be described as Christian. The values and principles which many people apply to their lives are pretty much contrary to the Gospel message. The cornerstone of today’s society is not Christ but economics. A person’s value is measured, more often than not, in terms of economic status. The poor are shunted aside as worthless while the wealthy seem to be given every consideration. ‘Money talks’, we say and that seems to be the doctrine of our society, but it is not the sound doctrine of our faith.
God has a completely different set of values from those on which our society is based. When Our Lord saw the wealthy depositing sizeable amounts of money into the collection box of the temple, he wasn’t impressed. It wasn’t as if the wealthy shouldn’t have given large sums, but Our Lord was looking for something else. He saw that something in the poor widow who donated two small copper coins. He explained to his disciples what he saw: The wealthy gave from their surplus, but the woman gave from her want, all that she had to live on.
It was the generosity of the widow that mattered, not the money she gave. We can imagine that this generosity was characteristic of her entire life. She may have been the kind of person who not only gave everything to the temple treasury, but who also made time to help her neighbours. She may have been the kind of woman who could always be counted upon. In actual fact, the widow is a symbol of Our Lord himself. Out of love for us he gave everything he had.
A contribution towards the upkeep and work of the Church is, of course, welcome and very necessary, but it doesn’t exhaust the lesson of the Gospel or Our Lord’s example. We are all called to be generous people, unselfish in all of our relations with others. God doesn’t value us for our money but for our generosity.