What I’m Thinking: Widows’ Houses

Jesus noticed a woman putting all she had to live on – just two small coins – into the Temple contribution box. He had just observed that religious leaders were known to “devour widows’ houses.”

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about the twelfth chapter of Mark, the very end (Mark 12:38-44), one of the most famous stories about Jesus in the Temple. He saw a woman putting two small coins into the donation box. He called over his disciples and pointed her out, and said, “She has given more than all the others with their great gifts, because she has given all she had, all she had to live on.”

Now, was Jesus commending her faith, her faithfulness, her generosity? Quite likely, but she had also appeared as an example of something he had just said before this in Mark’s Gospel, and our lectionary editors have included it. Jesus had warned them about the scribes, the ones who liked the best seats and the places of honor. He warned them that these religious leaders “devoured widows’ houses,” and – oh, yes – they said long prayers for the sake of appearance.

Jesus, a religious leader, was warning his followers about religious leaders, and it’s a warning that, frankly, all of us who are leaders of faith communities should be making. Because yes, it is good to be generous. Yes, it is good to share, and yes, many of us could share far more than we do and the world would be better for it. But to this day religious leaders devour widows’ houses, and as they do they pray long prayers for the sake of appearance.

So don’t give all you have to live on. Your life is precious to God. Do give to the extent that you feel approved by God and content that your life can go on. Do share, and enjoy the sharing of others. And watch out for people like me who want the best seats and the places of honor, and don’t let us devour any widows’ houses.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave me your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

Categories What I'm Thinking | Tags: | Posted on November 1, 2021

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