Some thought pennies wouldn’t survive the coronavirus. Though they were hard to find in the market for a while, honest Abe is evidently not quite ready to stop working completely. With pennies in short supply anyway, and each one costing two cents to produce, retiring Abe seems like a reasonable thing to do. After all, his Canadian and Australian cousins hung it up decades ago. The penny’s value in the marketplace has gotten so low, we question its worthiness to even exist.
The other characters in Mark’s story who see the widow come and go from the treasury probably view her the way we view the penny—rather worthless. In their eyes, her ability to contribute in the marketplace defines her worth. But Jesus doesn’t think that way. He divorces the concepts of monetary value and human worth.
When Jesus sits down opposite the treasury to people watch, he sees how everyone behaves. From all that he observes, this widow best models proper generosity—giving not from abundance, but giving everything she has to live on (v. 44). She knows as well as anyone that her gift will not make a dent in the needs of the temple, but she gives all she has anyway.
Jesus is looking for more than people whose gifts will pay the bills. Jesus is looking for people whose gifts will change their lives.
When we honor people for their donations, do we name buildings after the ones who write the biggest check or after the ones who make the biggest sacrifices? Do you agree with this practice?
God, help us see people and creation as you determine their value, not as marketplace standards do. Amen.