Two scenes invite our attention in this narrative. The widow's extravagant and quiet gift of her "whole life" is contrasted with the showy actions of the scribes and the rich. Their large deposits and their showy parades cannot erase their secret devouring of the lives of the powerless, especially when seen against the background of the two-fold command to "love God with one's whole being" and to "love the neighbor as oneself (Mark 12:28-34).
Only Jesus sees and interprets the actions of the woman. Her gift is done in quiet, and with a humility that draws attention not to itself, but rather invites contemplation of the One that inspires the depth of her dedication. Could it be that the woman's giving of her whole life is a profound parable of our Lord's giving of his life on the cross?
Gracious God, it is so easy for us to get caught up in the game of "show and tell" and to focus our attention on ourselves rather than on our neighbor. Turn our gaze from ourselves to those in need, and help us to follow the One who leads us to the cross in humble giving of himself for us. 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."