The Poor Widow
by Amy at http://www.artofthislife.wordpress.com
The voices grew louder as more and more people gathered around to watch the discussion.
“Which commandment is the foremost of all?” one of the scribes asked.
She tried hard to listen to the answer. The question was directed toward a young teacher who, for the last hour, had been arguing with the Scribes and Pharisees. However, his manner was different than any she had seen before. He spoke calmly and with a certain confidence that she had not observed among the other teachers of the Law.
“Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.”
A small gasp caught in the back of her throat as she listened to this answer. She had heard the Law read before and knew this was what God had spoken to Israel many years ago. But how could she truly love such a great God? What could she offer to such a King? Her husband had been dead for several years now, and she was only barely surviving, each day trying to stretch her few cents in order to buy food to live.
Still half-listening to the young teacher, these thoughts grew in her mind. Her hand, cracked and bleeding from hard work, slipped instinctively into the small pouch she carried at her waist and fingered the two small coins it held. It was all she had left. She planned to spend it at the market this afternoon, when she was done here.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart…” Perhaps she should offer these coins to the temple treasury. They wouldn’t buy much anyway. Yet, she was already hungry from having so little food the days before.
“No,” she spoke in an audible whisper. Somehow it seemed much better to give something to God, and this was the only thing she had left in the world to offer.
The crowd around was large. Religious leaders who had been questioning the young teacher, curious onlookers who loved listening to the discussions, and rich men coming to make great contributions to the temple treasury all thronged about. If only the young teacher would not look her way, she hoped secretly, as she edged through the crowd. He would probably laugh if he were to see her giving such a small offering. Certainly, he would think it worthless and, most likely, scorn her for even trying to give when she could only offer so little.
But alas, there he was taking a seat directly opposite the treasury. Now she would have to pass by him to make her offering. Common sense urged her to forget this silly scheme, yet an irrepressible desire to give something to the Lord refused to allow her to turn around.
Head bent down, she walked past him hoping he would not notice her. The two coins, so small, so worthless, dropped into the treasury.
With a tiny chinking sound, they were gone, and she began a hasty retreat.
“Truly, I say to you…” the young teacher was speaking to a small group of men gathered around him. In spite of herself, she stopped momentarily to listen before leaving the temple. “This poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury.”
She glanced around quickly, wondering who this poor widow might have been who could offer more to God than every other contributor. Surprise filled her face as she saw the teacher and his disciples looking her way. It was impossible! She could not be the ‘poor widow’ the young teacher was referring to. She had given the very least of anyone.
“For they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.”
Slowly, she raised her eyes to see if the teacher really meant what he said. His face was sincere and earnest. He nodded gently to her when he noticed her eyes searching his face.
Turning away, joy filled her heart as she pondered this strange statement. She had given so little to God, and somehow it was counted as more.
The thought of food momentarily crossed her mind, but suddenly she didn’t feel hungry. The amazing words of Scripture she had heard this young teacher speak seemed to fill her with everything she needed. She walked along the road away from the temple unsure of where she was headed.
Unsure of direction, future, or life, and yet she was filled with more life than she had ever experienced, through the incredible words of God that had been spoken today. Contributing less and yet giving more! Hungry and yet fully satisfied!
**Adapted from Mark 12:28-31, 41-44