He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; 2he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. 3He said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; 4for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.”
Still teaching in the temple, and having condemned the scribes for focusing on wealth, with their fine robes and foreclosing on widows’ homes while making a show of prayer, Jesus turns his attention to the people giving into the treasury box in the temple.
Many people pour bags of money into the box, carefully so that each coin rings out in the hearing of all those around. But a woman, a poor widow, comes in and almost furtively, as if she hopes not to be noticed at all, drops two small copper coins into the box. They don’t make much noise, a little clink, clink. But Jesus says she has given more than all the others. They had a lot, and gave off the top, gave of their abundance. But this poor widow, who was very poor, gave the last that she had to live on. They gave the left-overs; she gave her all.
Jesus is teaching the disciples, knowing that the time is coming soon when he will no longer be with them, and they must lead a new church. What kind of leaders will they be? What will they give? Even they will be tempted to power, arrogance, and greed as leaders; they have already shown their tendency to want to be greatest among their little group. But the example Jesus holds up is not the scribes in their finery and corruption, but the poor widow who humbly gives her all. In a culture where the poor are powerless, and women the least powerful of all, Jesus lifts a poor woman up as their example.
We today can also be tempted to power, arrogance, and greed; but the poor and the powerless, the one who gives her all, is example to us as well. The widow trusted God – somehow, she would find food – when she gave the last coin; do we trust God that much?