This Sunday’s Gospel had the widow offering two small coins(lepta in Greek, means small or thin) to the temple treasury. Each one was worth about a quarter of a cent! Jesus said that she put in more than all the rest, as she had given all that she had.
I thought (and preached) about the reality of a coin valued at a fraction of a penny. I went over to my desk drawer and searched for a copy of a lepton I was given many years ago, but I couldn’t find it. But what I found was much more relevant. I found a pile of small coins from various countries I have ministered in. In this pile were several Jamaican dollars, each worth about 1 US cent(0.0110379, as of today’s market). Also in this pile were several 25 cents pieces from Jamaica, it struck me that 2 of these are essentially worth 2 lepta. In my nine years of working in Jamaica I have been asked for money by several people in need, and if I gave them a few 25 cent pieces they would see it as an insult. They would need over 350 of them to be able to buy almost any kind of food. It really is an insignificant amount of money. Yet Jesus says the widow gave more than “ALL THE OTHER CONTRIBUTORS.” She “from her poverty” gave “all she had.”
In Israel there is an old mosaic in Tabgha, that commemorates the “loaves and fishes” miracle. A question often accompanied with it is this: “When are five loaves and two fish, enough? When we give it away.” I have witnessed hungry children in Jamaica share the food we gave them. I note in every poor country that I have been to, that those who have little are always more concerned with those who have even less. Can I give it all? Can you give it all?
All that I have is gift, not 10% of it, not some of it. I need to live in a way that testifies to that. That doesn’t necessarily mean we have to sell everything we have, but we better be mindful that we are indeed stewards of our gifts. And the more attached we are to our stuff (material and psychological) the less free we are. And that we need to be generous, not just because others are in need, but because we were made in the image and likeness of God. And God is most definitely generous! If I want people to believe in God, I better start acting like the God I believe in!
P.S. We all have our routines with keys, wallet, etc. For me, keys are always in the right-hand pocket, and money in the left. Today, as a real reminder of this, I have nothing in my left hand pocket but two Jamaican quarters! I hope that a student asks to borrow money for lunch, so I can offer them ALL that I have! :-)