In the 21st chapter of the Gospel of Luke, the writers document a certain widow:
“And Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, ‘Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.’”
Have you ever encountered this situation in real life? At HELP, we’ve encountered it more often than you’d probably think. Just the other day, we had a woman come into the office who was desperately worried about being able to pay her mortgage. She’s 80 years old and has worked for decades and now depends on a combination of her Social Security and some part-time work. She was fired from her job for something incredibly trivial and now found herself looking at an inevitable budget shortfall. So she came to HELP for some guidance.
While we couldn’t fix everything, we were able to come up with some ways for her to save a few bucks–like applying for Medicaid to help cover the cost of her Medicare premium. And for that, she returned with her two mites–in the form of food. We knew very intimately what her budget was–how little she had and how tight her budget really is–and, yet, her response to what felt like just a little bit of work on our part was to respond with gifts of thanks to our staff. I like to consider myself generous, but this woman continues to challenge my understanding of what generosity really means. I’ve been fooled into believing that the opposite of poverty is luxury when in reality, the opposite of poverty is enough.
What would it look like if those of us of more significant means put our ‘two mites’ in? What would it take to end poverty in America? In Virginia? In Hampton? I know I fall into the routine of looking toward the government to do something about poverty with tax dollars. But Christ has constantly called us to do something about it. What if we all gathered together and said, “This is not acceptable and we have the power to do something about it”?
Just like the rich man who walked away from Christ with his head hanging low, it’s difficult to think about parting with my worldly possessions and putting in ‘all the livelihood that I have’ into the treasury of God. But that’s what I’m called to do. That’s what we who profess Christ as Lord are called to do. I’m not telling you to go out today and sell all of your possessions and give the proceeds to the poor…but I feel like I’ve heard that somewhere before.
I do want to challenge myself, my family, and my community to look at all of the things we’re invested in–where our livelihood is invested–and see if it aligns with what our Lord and Savior requires of us. And where it doesn’t match up, to take at least one step closer–even just one mite at a time.