The moralist in us would perhaps observe the actions of the widow and then be tempted to command, "Now go and do likewise." But in a deeper sense, this story invites us to consider how we count value. Do we count true riches by monetary or quantitative standards, or are true riches to be seen in the extent to which the double command to love God and our neighbor shapes our stories?
Of course, the answer is at once simple and profoundly unsettling. Against such a demand, we can only echo the disciples' despairing question: "Then who can be saved?" (Mark 10:26). In the end, we have nothing to offer, if we imagine that there is something we can contribute that will count as value or will earn us points. We are meant in humility only to follow this Jesus who leads us to the cross where we find true worth in the forgiving love of God.
Loving God, you call us to repentance and trust in the gospel. Help us to follow Jesus, our Lord and Savior, who leads us to the cross and to the love and forgiveness that is ours in the giving of his life on the cross. Empower us in our loving and giving, that our neighbor, too, may experience and know our gracious God. Amen.
Mark 12:38-44 (NRSV)
38 As he taught, he said, "Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces,
39 "and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets!
40 "They devour widows' houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation."
41 He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums.
42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny.
43 Then he called his disciples and said to them, "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury.
44 "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."