Reflecting on Mark 12: 38-44
Jesus, sitting opposite of the Temple treasury, watched that widow put her whole livelihood into the coffer. You know what I think happened next? I think his heart broke. You’ve experienced it. It’s that painful arrow to the heart that catches you off guard and makes your chest hurt.
The first time I felt it was while riding a bus one bitter cold January day. I looked out the window and saw two old men, shivering together on a park bench, gusts of sleet plummeting them. I looked away, but it was too late. Compassion broke my heart.
Years later, working as a waitress, I watched a widow, solitary and sad, come into the restaurant and eat alone every Saturday night. At the end of her meal she would gather the leftovers in a bag, careful to have something to eat for her lonely Sunday. I tried to hide my heart, but it was too late. It broke in half.
I’ll bet that’s what happened that day near the Treasury. Jesus, so steeped in the powerful, ethical laws of Moses, watched a widow, the very person whom Jewish leadership was to most protect from poverty, give from her great need. He watched her, and then his heart broke. He called to his friends and invited them to have their hearts broken too.
We never know how our lives touch people, but it’s almost never for the reasons we think. It’s not our wholeness that makes its deepest mark in the hearts of those who watch us. It’s our brokenness, our vulnerability, that breaks the heart, and of course it’s the crack in the heart that lets the Light shine through.
How has a broken heart changed you?
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I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).