Monday, November 15, 2004

The widow's mite

Jesus looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.’ (Luke 21:1-4)

I wonder, how did the priests spend those two copper coins?

Did they recognize the gift for what it was?

Or did they spend it, lumped carelessly together with all the other gifts, on rich food and fine clothing, on all the things that this woman could never afford, all the luxuries she would never have allowed herself?

Every Sunday, people like this woman come to our churches, seniors who put into the plate that which they have managed to carve out of tiny Social Security checks and inadequate pensions. How would the Lord react if He knew we were spending their money on luxury cars and beautifully decorated houses? On gem-studded crosses and Rolex watches? On vast "Byzantine-style" churches that perpetuate our imperialistic aspirations?

Heaven in all its fury would break loose in the temple, as it once did long ago.

4 comments:

Stacy said...

That reminds me of a story I heard last night about some of those who were devastated by Hurrican Katrina. They've been tracking how the money was spent and thank God most of the money has been put to good use. However, one voucher was tracked to Louis Vuitton in Atlanta, GA where it was spent on a $900.00 purse.

***

Back to your post...

Sampson, what do you make of the woman who poured the expensive oil on the feet of Jesus? And the conversation regarding the financial aspect of the offering? Just wondering.

Sampson said...

Dear Stacy,

Here is my feeling on the passage you allude to. I don't really think it's that complicated. When Jesus says "You will always have the poor with you," he is in essence saying, "This is a unique moment, a singular moment in history, the preparation for my death. You have from now until the end of time to care for the poor. But not this moment."

In other words, I don't think Jesus means to say it is necessary that there always be poor, but rather that we have from the Resurrection to the Second Coming to solve the problem of poverty.

S.

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