Like the splendour of the Temple in Jerusalem from bygone days, we motley crew of Christians gather in this current monument to the glory of God, St Patrick’s Cathedral, built on the contributions of our forebears, and now maintained by our own offerings. In its beauty and nobility, this sacred place has embraced countless people, who have come through its doors to offer a prayer, to pour out their hearts, to discover a truth, to find solace, to seek forgiveness, and to be nourished in the Sacraments. We rightly honour and take humble pride in this magnificent Temple to the Lord.

As Jesus roamed through the Temple he knew and loved – praying and preaching, conversing and contemplating – we can readily appreciate how his heart might have felt, because it would have been remarkably similar to ours. As he settled into an undoubtedly favourite little nook, much like we go for our favourite pew, Jesus turned his attention to the people around him, and what they were doing. The folk who were coming up to the treasury were united in doing a good thing – making an offering for the running and upkeep of the Temple. But Jesus could see a difference between them.

It is the poor widow that he most keenly observes, a woman who was perhaps the one person that would otherwise go unnoticed. She would not have been outwardly impressive, like others coming forward, and the drop of two tiny little coins would barely have been heard compared to the bags of coins being deposited by others. Yet, this woman is who Jesus sees. And what he sees is a different way of valuing. Jesus saw value not in terms of what was received but in what was given.

We can talk about a ‘generous donation’ or a ‘great contribution’. When we do this, we are placing the emphasis on the end product, so to speak. The value is in the thing itself. But Jesus was drawn to a different way of valuing that looked to the heart of the one giving, not on the gift itself.

What did this woman have that Jesus valued so highly over the other more weightier gifts? She had a trusting heart that made her gift extraordinarily generous. To give what she had given needed to come from a trusting heart – trusting that God would provide, for she now had nothing left for her own provision. This is generosity writ large. This is what Jesus wanted his disciples to notice: her expansive heart that trusted in God’s providence. And so, he said to them, ‘Look, and learn!’

On any given Sunday, here in the Cathedral (and in most other parish Churches, for that matter) there will be a very wide mix of people – young and old, male and female, clergy and laity, politically left and politically right, rich and poor, well and ill, contented and troubled, believers and doubters, and so on. Besides our common humanity, perhaps the one sure thing that we all share is that we are sinners hoping to be found by the merciful God. Might we not look around among ourselves today – mixed disciples in the Lord, present here in this magnificent Temple – and find among us those signs of generosity of spirit built on trust. We all have this spirit; for God provides, as he did in Elijah’s time, and he does so amid our own personal poverties. So do not be afraid to look, to see, to learn.