By Christopher Simon
The Widow’s Mite
“Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all the living that she had.” ~ Luke 21:3-4
The gospels of Mark and Luke both tell the story of the poor widow who gives two small copper coins to the temple treasury. This would have been the rough equivalent of putting in two pennies, but Jesus tells his disciples that she has actually given more than all the others. They have given from their abundance while she has given from what she had to live on.
With income inequality growing in many countries we have a much larger number of both impoverished and wealthy people and consequently a “hollowing out” of the middle class. In the United States, the U. S. Census Bureau reports that 15.9 per cent, 48.5 million Americans, fell below the poverty line in 2011, while the Wall Street Journal reports that the wealthiest 1% of Americans saw their income increase by 275% over the last three decades. What income growth there has been in the United States during the last few years has been reaped mostly by the wealthiest of us. The poor are indeed getting poorer, the rich are getting richer, and more middle class folks are falling into poverty.
It is certainly nice when the wealthy share their riches, but when billionaires donate a million dollars they are literally giving one thousandth of their wealth away. When someone living below the poverty line, whose net worth may be less than zero, gives a single dollar, they are literally giving of their very life. How many of us, whether rich or poor, can actually heed the call of the gospels to give of our substance, not just our abundance?