There is a story in Mark 12:41-44 and Luke 21:1-4; a very simple narrative in which we see Jesus sitting by the collection box in the temple, watching how the crowds dropped in their money. He observed that many rich people dropped large sums. Then he noticed a poor widow, who put in two small coins. Jesus called his disciples and spoke to them. He said, ‘I tell you the truth; this poor widow has given more that all the rich people altogether. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, as poor as she is, has given everything she has to live on.’
This story challenges us to the core. Our modern world is characterised by an obsession with wealth, our possessions, the size of our bank accounts and how we are perceived and measured on the material and celebrity Richter scale.
Many in our world today would have applauded, celebrated and high fived the rich who it seemed were swelling the amount of money that was being collected. However, Jesus took a diametrically opposed position. He turns our worldview upside down. To Jesus, it is the poor widow who is to be recognized and celebrated, not the mega rich. She is to be celebrated for a number of reasons. Firstly, in contrast to the rich who gave a tiny proportion of their wealth, the widow gave all she had to live on.
Secondly, the widow did not attract attention to herself, but rather brought her offering with great humility and simplicity of bearing. In essence, it was the poor widow who had gone beyond the expected. The expected here is not the quantity of money that was given, but firstly, the proportionality of what was given. It is not the quantum of money that is placed in the offering bowl, but rather what we have left after we have given.
In our materialistic, greed-fuelled and acquisitive world, Jesus is challenging us to go beyond the expected in giving; directly to the work of the Church, good causes and those around us.
Copyright Emmanuel Mbakwe 2014©
PS: If you have been inspired, provoked or learnt something from this article, why not do any or all of the following: (i) leave some feedback or a comment, either positive or developmental; (ii) recommend it to a friend; (iii) share it with a friend. This will encourage and help me to serve you better, so together we can make a difference in our world.