Monday 22 November 2010

Bible Book:
Luke

"He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, 'Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.'" (vv. 1-4)

Luke 21:1-4 Monday 22 November 2010

Background

Traditionally this story has been interpreted to encourage thefaithful to give everything they have with complete devotion andselflessness.

Luke puts a twist in the tale, however. These versus come directlyafter Jesus has just promised severe punishment to the scribes -Temple insiders - because they "devour widow's houses" (Luke20:47).

In today's economic circumstances, the condemnation of those whouse their position of power to take homes away from widows soundsas timely as it does emotional. Bad enough that banks are takinghomes from the average person, but how much worse it would be ifChristian clergy were responsible for making widows homeless.

How can Jesus denounce religious leaders who take advantage ofwidows on the one hand and then turn right around and encouragewidows to give all that they have to the same system?

The biblical scholar R Alan Culpepper suggests another way to lookat this apparent contradiction: that the character of the scribesis such that they will even steal widows' houses from them whereasthe widows are prepared to give everything they have to God.

The text suggests to us that God wants us to be like one of thesegroups of people and not like the other. It doesn't take a lot ofintelligence or wit to figure out which sort of people are destinedto become citizens of the coming kingdom of God.

And here is another piece of good news about God's kingdom: thosewho give small gifts out of their small resources can be certainthat their gifts are honoured and cherished by God.

To Ponder

Imagine witnessing the scene described in thistext. What would you want to say to the widow? To the scribes?

If you were called to be an advocate for thescribes before the throne of God, how might you plead for them?

How do you cope when your desire to give islimited because your own resources are limited?

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