An unnamed widow shuffles along, pushed along by the crowd behind her, swarming into the temple of Jerusalem. Crouched on the sidelines is Jesus, watching silently as the people mill around, throwing in their offering into the temple treasury. His disciples stand around, disinterested, bored and ready to find a tavern to eat and drink in. The woman, back bent with age, stoops and places two little copper coins in the timber opening of the large boxes. She slinks away, inconspicuously. Almost immediately following her, a well-dressed man comes. He is one of many that Jesus has noticed every few minutes who come along. The well-dressed man slows his walk in order to slow the pace of the crowd down. He flamboyantly spreads his arms out to gain their attention and slows the line of people behind him further. Then he dramatically undoes the cord of his purse and pulls out his coins. Using his left hand, he pulls back the right sleeve of his cloak and throws the money in while looking around for the crowd’s recognition. Jesus feels sick in his stomach.
Jesus stands, briskly looks about, catches the eye of his disciples and summons them. They haven’t seen that look in his eyes for several days now – in fact, not since they came to Jerusalem when Jesus cleaned out the temple with a whip. And he’s got it now (Mk 11:15). They quickly assemble around him – something might happen. He might explode like he had done earlier.
“Did you see that widow just now?” he asks. Some of his disciples look perplexed, others are hollow eyed; some look even bored. He continues: “She has put into the treasury all the money she had. But see these rich people,” indicating with his hand, “they give out of the abundance of their wealth. It cost them nothing to do this.” With that, the sermon had ended. Their hearts had been lacerated; their world expanded to see things from God’s perspective.
It is the inconspicuous, small amount of money given in the economy of God, which makes the most sense (cents?). It is the sacrificial and inconspicuous act of a woman anointing Jesus with expensive perfume, that makes sense (Mk 14:1-11). It is the inconspicuous act of care and hospitality by a Samaritan that makes sense (Mk 10:25-37).