Jesus’ Life: Chapter 13 – Jesus’ Final Ministry In Jerusalem
I have heard the short Gospel reading about the poor widow who put two small copper coins into the Temple collection box many times. I have also wondered, just as often, why she made such a huge contribution?
Jesus had probably just finished preaching and sat down near to the collection box in a part of the Temple that was open to women. He also probably saw the amount everyone donated, the rich and the poor. The rich, he said, contributed from their wealth, the widow from her poverty. In Jesus’ words, “She put in everything she had to live on”.
The Temple offerings were used to cover staff costs, maintenance and alms for the poor. She, a poor widow, with probably no significant means of support, may have even received help from the Temple alms. Yet, from her heart, she placed the teaching of God’s message and the needs of others above the needs of herself.
It’s easy for us to complicate the issue of world poverty by asking twisted questions. Who are the poor? Why don’t they get up in the morning and find a job… etc! We can also convince ourselves that token gifts to a disaster fund or random contributions to collections mean we are fulfilling our human duty. Sadly, it’s likely such thoughts and actions ease our conscious but make us even more immune to the suffering of the poor.
We must frequently assess and reassess our actions; are they for the right reasons? Often our instant reward for work is money which we can exchange for many forms of happiness. This poor widow found happiness by sharing her meagre wealth with people as poor as herself. (Mark 12:41-44, Luke 21:1-4)
Poverty will always be with us. The poor are not difficult to find. The choice about whether to help and by how much is ours alone.
Am I heartless, cold-hearted or big-hearted? Make someone happy today!
Lord Jesus, open my eyes to the plight of the poor and the many ways that I can help them. Then Lord, open my heart to be more like the poor Jewish widow whom you saw in the Temple giving away everything she had.
Prayer: The Poor
Lord Jesus, we pray,
that the flames of your Divine love
may burn away all traces of vice within us,
and that we may be practical and zealous
in the service of the poor. Amen.