Open your hearts and give. Mark 12:38 -44
Not many of us reading this article have been so destitute that all we have is a penny to drop in an offering plate.
In verse 38, Jesus states, “truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more money than all those who are contributing to the treasury.” The mere idea of this vulnerable woman giving all she owned, takes me into a deep and sacred place.
I wonder what kind of love compelled her to give everything she had.
In the prior verses, Jesus warns his followers to beware of those who are always seeking the best seats, and places of honor at banquets. He states people like that, “devour those who are poor and love to be heard as they say their lengthy, self-serving prayers”.
Their prayers were phony and they didn’t care about people like this widow who had nothing. This woman was ignored in her culture. She was unimportant and in the margins, unnoticed except by the love of Jesus, pointing out she had given more than any of them.
My parents were hard-working individuals but had a contentious marriage that was magnified by my father’s mental illness. After years of working to repair this marriage, my mother eventually left and took the youngest child with her.
I recall a story she shared with me during this difficult time in her life. She stated, my little sister and she were struggling with keeping up with all the demands and they were in need of food. One morning during my mother’s prayer time, she pleaded with God and opened her heart, giving all she had emotionally and spiritually.
She and my sister then put on their sweaters and began their walk to the elementary school. As they ambled along she noticed some trash floating across a lot. The closer she got to it she noticed it was three, one-dollar bills. She couldn’t believe her eyes as she chased after the money; three dollars — enough for a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter.
When I think of this story, I weep. I weep for those who struggle like the widow and struggle like my mother did.
My mother gave all she had to my younger sister when she left an abusive home, and fled.
In those days it was a courageous act indeed – to leave with no place to lay their heads. Fortunately she was surrounded by people who practiced compassion, unlike the religious leaders of this story, who devoured the poor. Her community gave of themselves as they took her in, helped her financially and saw her through some very difficult times.
These friends gave their all and we all benefited because of their generosity.
For me, the “Widow’s Mite” has become a powerful reminder of Jesus calling us into social justice matters.
What are the ways God is calling you and me, financially, emotionally and spiritually to contribute to the Treasurer?
Nancy McCormick and husband Mike are pastors of Chester and Springfield Friends, and Nancy is Wilmington College’s campus minister.