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The Parable of the Widow and the Gold Coin…  Mark 12:42

Posted: October 13, 2017

I do not know if you have experienced a modern day parable… It happened to me when I was on my first trip to Cobán, Guatemala. I have shared this story with many of you. Whenever I think about it, it is powerful reminder of God.

One beautiful Sunday morning after breakfast at the Monastery in Cobán, I suddenly realized that all of the monks had disappeared. It happened so quickly, I didn’t notice their departure. One of the remaining monks said they went to Mass at San Marcos Cathedral around the corner. Our trip to visit the aldea with Fr. Pedro had been postponed, so I made a quick decision to join them at Mass.

I quickly changed and ran through the courtyard. When I pushed the heavy, wrought iron gates, I was on my own until I found one of the monks. I was a stranger in a foreign country and only spoke a little bit of Spanish. I was also unfamiliar with Cobán.

When I arrived at San Marcos, I was relieved to find one of the monks in the vestibule… The church was overflowing with people and they had set up extra chairs. I quickly took a seat behind him. As I looked over at the people entering the church, I noticed a small elderly woman loaded down with heavy woven bags filled with fruit. She was wearing the traditional Guatemalan clothing. I assumed that she would be selling her fruit after Mass in the market. I also noticed that she was barefoot. She was quickly ushered into the Sanctuary by someone who knew her.

Towards the end of Mass, I happened to glance over and noticed the same elderly woman. This time, she had the woven bags slung over her shoulders, but they were empty. It took a couple of seconds for it to sink in… She had given everything she had at Mass to help those less fortunate than herself. In Cobán, and the surrounding aldeas, they collect rice, beans, and fruit and place it on the altar with financial contributions.

In that moment, I realized that God had sent me to Cobán to experience the sacred. This elderly stranger was living the Parable of the Gold Coin, without a word, she was teaching me something powerful about her faith. I knew that it was a holy moment.

As I consider her gift of love and stewardship, I am deeply humbled. She gave everything that she had out of her abundance. My trip to Coban was a lesson in faith, hope and love. It was also God’s way of teaching me lessons that I needed to learn. I am deeply grateful.

As we begin our Stewardship work during the next month, I wonder what stories you would share about experiences you have had with sharing, sacrificial giving and love. St. Patrick’s Ministries are a reflection of this love that is extended to our community in Edina, Minneapolis and Guatemala. Over the last century and a half, we have built a legacy of giving and stewardship thanks to our generous community. We are deeply grateful. We invite you to consider how you can engage, connect and serve at St. Patrick’s Church in the coming weeks!

I know that I may not be able to give everything like the woman I saw at San Marcos, but I am inspired by her beautiful example of giving.

--Maura Schnorbach