I wish I knew her story.
Perhaps her husband was a soldier killed too young, leaving her alone at an early age. Perhaps he was ill, outcast and no one but her noticed when his body betrayed him to death. Maybe they lived a long happy life together before the breath went out of him for the last time.
Whatever happened, she’s alone when we meet her. Her clothes are clean but tattered, mended time and again. Her hands and eyes tell the story of a difficult life. She is neither wealthy nor famous but she knows the most Famous One. Today she is in the temple. She walks among the teachers of the law, the money changers, and the crowds of people headed to worship, unnoticed except perhaps by those who wish to keep their distance.
She doesn’t expect to be noticed. She knows her gift is minuscule by the count of men. Still, she makes her way through the crowd to place her coins in the collection box and this is all we know of her.
She came. She gave all she had.
And Jesus noticed her.
In this story Jesus has just finished warning his followers to be wary of the religious elite who are more concerned about their fame in this life than they are about caring for the widows, the poor and the marginalized. Then the scripture cuts to a scene in the temple. The show-offs, the important, the leaders, the elite and the wealthy abound. They fill the collection boxes with pomp and circumstance, vying for position and recognition.
And then a widow. A widow enters the temple and with the plink, plink of two small coins she out-gives them all.
And Jesus notices her.
Jesus sees the anonymous. Jesus sees the marginalized. Jesus sees the poor. Jesus sees us.
Be wary of wishing to be recognized for your greatness. It will not satisfy for long.
Jesus asks not for you to be powerful, to be famous, to build success, to gain endless riches, to see the world or to be well liked. Jesus asks for all; all you have to give, no matter how small it may seem and to him that gift holds the greatest value. He measures value by the size of the sacrifice not the commotion stirred in the crowd.
Oh that we would see the widow, the orphan, the anonymous, the poor, the slave, the marginalized and ourselves not as causes to pity but as Jesus sees us — As people of matchless worth.