32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Mark 12:41-44
A drawing from the studio of Rembrandt, which may show the scene in the Gospel for this week where the widow places all her wealth into the Temple Treasury, referred to as the Widow’s Mite. The arched frame effect in the drawing was used by Rembrandt elsewhere and the arrangement of the scene is very like ‘ The Return of the Prodigal’ oil painting in the Hermitage, St Petersberg, with a similar cluster of other figures whose presence is mysterious. It’s the kind of scene which might have captured Rembrandt’s imagination due to the opportunity for human characterisation and drama and the setting in the Temple, bearing in mind ‘The Woman Caught in Adultery’ in the National Gallery, London, though he never painted the subject. The drawing in ink was acquired by the British Museum as by Rembrandt, though the attribution has not been sustained due to the quality. Its the gesture of the woman in the foreground which suggests the theme.
The Gospel of Sunday comes from the period just before Jesus’ death. He has triumphantly entered Jerusalem, expulsed the money changers from the temple and spent time there teaching and debating. The passage immediately following predicts the destruction of the magnificent building. in some ways we can see the figure of the Widow as like Christ, one who gives all, and whose gesture transcends the limits of the sacrificial economy of the Temple in a way that Jesus was soon to do once and for all. The artist through the overworking of the pen gives more emphasis to her presence and stresses her humility and the loving intent in her gesture, in contrast to the other more self conscious figure approaching the Treasury box.