“Old Woman Jesus”
“A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had.” – Mark 12:41-44
Watching the widow is like looking at a rough sea. She inspires awe, but also dread.
Do I have that kind of faith? If I did I wouldn’t survive long.
I’m confused. Here’s my problem: I ask “What does this story tell me about me? The better question is always: What does the Gospel reveal about God?
Jesus sees an old woman, her back hunched, tattered pocketbook held in a plastic grocery bag. I think “pathetic.” But, when he sees her Jesus sees himself.
You can’t come into your own unless you’ve had what psychiatry call “twinship.” Everyone needs someone to look at and say, “She’s just like me.” When little children practice twinship it gets so intense that when one of them falls down, their playmate cries. Our brains crave this kind of connection. We cannot come into our own without it.
Poor Jesus! Christ is fully human so he craves twinship, but he’s fully divine so he’s never had it. I’m confused by Jesus? He’s confused by himself.
Until he sees another person who mirrors him. He sees this bold woman give away the last two cents she has to live on. And in that mirror he sees himself.
God could have given like those rich worshipers gave, sharing some power, interceding in our lives every now and then. But instead, God gave it all away, surrendered all majesty to come down into the muck with us. In Christ God gets down to his last two cents. And then on the cross he gives that away too.
No wonder Jesus got worked up when he saw the widow give. In her action he saw himself.
Thank you O God, for giving us nothing less than your self.
Matt Fitzgerald is the Senior Pastor of St. Pauls United Church of Christ in Chicago. He is the host of “Preachers on Preaching,” a weekly podcast sponsored by The Christian Century.