In Jesus’ time, those who were wealthy were seen as blessed by God and those who were poor had fallen out of favour – they were being punished for reasons unknown. And the “punishment” was quite severe. Not just lacking earthly wealth either. It included infirmity, disability, widowhood, etc. Like children, they were the lowest of the low. They didn’t count. Hence, they were in many ways despised and shunned if not physically isolated by the faithful. Leprosy, a disease common in Jesus’ time, rendered the unfortunate sufferer as unclean – socially, spiritually, and liturgically. They could not attend the Synagogue or temple; they had to declare themselves unclean when in public – ring a bell and call out “Unclean! Unclean!” They had to make sure they stayed a certain distance from members of the public. They certainly were the “least of My brothers”, as Jesus would anoint them.
While the Pharisees, Sadducees, and priests were focussed on being recognised, huffing and puffing while fluffing their distinctive robes; claiming the Synagogue’s front seats; and showing off their wealth with flamboyance & gusto as they made affordable donations in the Synagogue Treasury, Jesus called them out for their hypocrisy. In today’s Gospel passage from Mark, He doesn’t condemn them but contrasts their self-imposed disposition of grandiosity in giving with that of a widow who humbly places a meagre amount, a “mite” (in today’s terms, about 1/8th of a cent) in the treasury. It is safe to assume no-one else noticed her. Jesus elevates the generosity of the widow to that of mighty! Her gift is “…more valuable…” than all of the combined inputs from the wealthy (many of whom “…put in a great deal”). She is in Jesus’ eyes, a Mighty Widow. Her sacrifice was profound, her poverty extreme – it cost her dearly – and her sacrifice, as meagre in real terms as it might be, shows her selfless love for her God!
Throughout Jesus’ public ministry, He elevates the lowly and the spurned to the highest of the high. He proclaimed, “Unless you welcome the Kingdom of God like a little child, you will not enter it!” – learn to trust, love, forgive, and live like a little child does – a love and trust that is always flowing out to others. Even for us today, these are radical words indeed. Learn to trust love, forgive, and live as the mighty widow does – who’s love and trust is flowing out to the “Godworks” of the temple.
Small and lowly is huge and mighty in Jesus’ eyes. It’s what is in our heart that Jesus yearns for – no matter how small or insignificant. We should concentrate on doing the ordinary, lowly things in our life extraordinarily well, in the name of Jesus, our Saviour.