Jesus sat across from the collection box for the temple treasury and observed how the crowd gave their money. Many rich people were throwing in lots of money. One poor widow came forward and put in two small copper coins worth a penny. Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I assure you that this poor widow has put in more than everyone who’s been putting money in the treasury.All of them are giving out of their spare change. But she from her hopeless poverty has given everything she had, even what she needed to live on.” -Mark 12:41-44
On Sunday, Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem. On Monday, he was cleansing the temple. On Tuesday, Jesus noticed a woman giving her offering and made an astounding statement. He said she had given more than any of the wealthy people who were giving out of their extra, for she gave out of her poverty.
Traditionally, we’ve understood this story to be Jesus lifting up this woman as an example of extraordinary generosity. But some scholars challenge us to see it differently. Maybe Jesus was chastising religious leaders and other authorities who profit from the faithfulness of those they exploit while they themselves are not willing to give with the same generous abandon. It is true that what Jesus says is at the same time an affirmation of the woman and a condemnation of others giving that day.
So on this Holy Tuesday, on a day when our world is yet again rocked by terrorism, let us think about what we are giving. It would sure be easy to hunker down all the more into our own self-preservation. But let’s be brave to ask: How generous am I? Am I giving a little, and then keeping whatever I need to keep up my security and standard of life? Am I asking others to give more than I am willing to give? Or, am I opening my hand fully to release all my resources, saying, “God, here I am. Use me!”