Put yourself in Jesus’ place here. He’s just spoken out against the big shots, how they love to be recognized in public, and get the best seats in restaurants. He even says they “devour the houses of widows,” and in the very next scene we see this happen in real time.
Seated in the Temple near the Treasury, Jesus has the perfect view of what people are contributing to the upkeep of the Temple and its ministries to the poor.
Can you imagine? Thank God for online giving, huh?
Before we meet her, we need to say a word about widows here. The scholar John Pilch tells us that in Hebrew society, the word for “widow” was “one who keeps silence.” Without a husband or sons to speak up for her, the widow—who was excluded from inheriting from her deceased husband—was at the mercy of the religious officials. That was, after all, the very point of the Treasury collections. The money collected was to be disbursed to those in the community who were poor.
But was it? Jesus seems to be lambasting the scribes, whose use of the monies went to their long robes and fancy banquets, while this poor widow fulfilled her tithing observance by giving everything she had.
Is it possible that there may be another layer underneath the story of the shocking generosity of this woman? Another interpretation might suggest that Jesus, while inspired that she gave everything she had, was outraged that the scribes, whose mandate it was to care for the “widow, the fatherless, the stranger in the land” ((Ps.146:9), sat comfortably in their seats of honor and let her?
Who are the humble servants who care for those without safety nets in our own world?
Kathy McGovern ©2021