For all of them have contributed out of their abundance;
but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”
An unnamed 1st Century widow enters the temple in Jerusalem during the Festival of Passover to place her offering in the temple treasury. She has likely slipped in unnoticed and unacknowledged. The big donors have paraded forward, and the priests and scribes know who they are by first name. Those big donors are greeted first upon entering the temple doors.
But does anyone notice the widow there? Jesus does. In fact, he doesn’t need a giving tracker to know what people’s gifts are. He shares with his disciples the widow’s offering: two small coins worth no more than a penny. It was all she had left.
Why would she have given all she had? Maybe because if you have nothing, no one can hound you to pay for a fee, a tax or market items. What use is walking around with two coins when you will only have deficit at every turn?
Most of us don’t know what it’s like to have hit that kind of rock-bottom. When she walks out of that temple, where will she go? What will she do?
Oh, to think, the number of people who have left home and shelter giving all the money they have to get to a better place. We read the stories of Haitians and Afghan refugees. Women and children held hostage by an abusive partner or parent often flee with nothing more than the clothes on their backs since part of the abuser’s scheme is to tether her so that she is fully dependent. Prisoners often leave prison with nothing. They will be lucky if anyone in their family has kept prized possessions or valuable identification like birth certificates or driver’s licenses. If not, how will they ever be able to start work?
What does this mean for you and me? It means we acknowledge that we have a long way to go in understanding people in these situations. It means we open our eyes to the needs of others. It means responding to the opportunities to be generous. It means considering ways to become more curious…curious about the story and the experience of the widow and those who walk around with barely enough to survive the next day.
We know Christ pours out his life to show us God’s abundance of life. We can show God’s love through giving so that others might experience an abundance of life.
What is an organization that works with those most financially vulnerable that you support?