November 7, 2021: The Widow’s Might

Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost

The Widow’s Might

The widow and her mite are extreme examples of selfless, sacrificial giving—examples which the church still needs today. There is something more going on here.

Mark’s Gospel introduces the widow and her mite with a rebuke of the scribes. They walk around in long robes. They expect to be greeted with respect. They demand the best seats. They “devour widows’ houses.” They misuse (and abuse) the resources at their disposal.

The widow does not have a long robe, does not expect to be noticed by anyone, does not get invited to the synagogue or banquets. She has her house stolen, her possessions (assuming she had any) dumped out in the street while she is begging and hoping for her daily bread.

The widow’s humility is set against the scribes’ hubris.

This is no longer a feel-good story about the joy of giving. This is a story about systems that oppress for the sake of wealth, power, and prestige. We like to identify ourselves as the widow in this story . . . faithfully giving away all we have to live on. But perhaps we are really the long-robed, grandiose scribes devouring the planet, the poor, the widows for the sake of appearance.

When the woman shows up at the temple to give all that she has, I wonder if she glances at the good-ole-boy network of scribes patting each other on the back. I wonder if anyone else notices her insurrection. Jesus does.

The widow’s might reveals the humble, defiant, sacrificial kingdom that Jesus has been talking about. It is a kingdom at odds with the scribes (and us). There is plenty of room in our world for joyful giving. There is also plenty of room for us to exercise our humble, defiant, sacrificial might for and in the name of the kingdom of God.

Kerry Krauss, pastor, Sister Bay Moravian Church
Sister Bay, Wisconsin