Giving abundantly from our poverty

Giving abundantly from our poverty

Alison-ChristianIn the story of the Widow’s Mite (Mark 12: 41 – 44), Jesus is sitting outside the temple with his disciples watching the people put their offering of money into the treasury. The rich give abundantly. Then a widow comes along who puts in two small coins, “all that she has to live on,” and Jesus, observing her, points out to his disciples that this woman has given more than anyone else because the rich who gave abundantly still have an abundance of money. It hasn’t really cost them anything to give, whereas this woman now has nothing to live on.

The poor widow is, however, rich in her attitude to God. In the giving away of her small coins which are, paradoxically, her greatest material wealth, she honours God by putting him first, by putting service to him above her own needs. She expresses a powerful faith: one that demonstrates itself in actions. She acts with great trust as she chooses to live for God in the moment.

And, of course, this anonymous woman has given us great riches from her poverty. When she put in her little coins she had no idea she was being observed, no idea that her story would be told over and over again; that she would challenge those of us who know we give only out of abundance, who know we don’t put God first, who recognise how partial our love of God is when measured against hers. This anonymous woman has challenged us and our attachment to material wealth for centuries.

The irony is that her very gift to us comes from her poverty. She never knew that her small act of the moment would change the world, challenge wealthy and powerful people hundreds of years later. But perhaps she knew that though she was poor, she was not impoverished: that her action expressed a greater freedom in its letting go and trusting God, than most of us will ever know.

She taught us another thing, too: something the saints have proclaimed down the ages. If we live in God, when we are weak, we are strong and when we are poor, we are rich and it is in recognising our poverty that we have most to give.