I have been reflecting on the the “Widow’s Mite,” which is the familiar title of a teaching presented in the Gospel accounts of Mark 12:41-44, and Luke 21:1-4. Jesus is at the Temple in Jerusalem. The Gospel of Mark specifies that two mites (Greek lepta) are together worth a quadrans — the smallest Roman coin. A lepton was the smallest and least valuable coin in circulation in Palestine. I am told they were worth about six minutes of an average daily wage.
In the story, Jesus sees a widow donate two small coins, while wealthy people were donating much more. Jesus explains to his disciples that the small sacrifices of the poor mean more to God than the extravagant, but proportionately lesser, donations of the rich who instead gave out of their abundance…The widow offered everything she had to live on to God. Her focus was on God, and offering her all, everything, to Him.
I have always felt that this text places perspective on our personal relationship with God, more than financial. God does not desire our 10 percent, or tithe, rather God longs for us to offer ourselves, completely, in love to Him, and to each other. God wants 100 percent of our hearts, souls, and minds, our strength. In this way God is reflected in all that we say and do. While this may not be a perfected work, in Christ we find our perfection as we grow more and more into that perfect union — But first we must be willing to offer from ourselves, our being, not our excess…
Yet, for many of us the things we value, that we “treasure,” are the very things we hoard from God. We hold on to these with “all our heart, our soul, and our mind, and our strength…’ Our obsessions, our hubris, our hatreds, biases, prejudices, angers — these idols to our own folly, desire and ego. The list is seemingly endless. Yet these are what most of us refuse to offer to God, and they are exactly what He wants from us. Our relationship with God can never be whole until these things have been offered up — these stumbling blocks that keep us from being who God is calling us to be — the barriers to the relationship we have with God, and one another. Let us pray that we be empowered to give out of our abundance and rid ourselves of everything that possesses us that is wrong and unholy, choosing instead to live wholly, holy, for God and our neighbor…
The Rev. Walter Van Zandt Windsor is rector at Trinity Episcopal Church.
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