In Mark 12:38-44, Jesus warns us not to be morally condescending, arrogant, or have excessive wealth. In the words of Jesus, “these men will be punished the most severely.” The men in the gospel feed their egos by walking around in flowing robes and getting the best seats at synagogues. Jesus compares the intentions behind the rich and the poor’s charitable acts. In the parable of the widow, a woman experiencing poverty gives two very small coins to the temple.
The rich men, admired by many, gave very large amounts to the temple. Jesus warns us not to be fooled; while the rich men gave large donations, the woman’s donation was all she had. Her donation was her entire livelihood while the rich’s donation didn’t impact them at all.
In a modern context, this gospel urges me to think about charity, wealth, and distribution. In 2021, America hit the largest wealth gap in the country’s history. The top 10 percent of Americans hold 69.8% of the nation’s wealth. Half of that wealth is owned by the top 1% while the other 9% hold about 37% of the wealth. Oftentimes, the top 1% are praised for their charitable acts. While generosity is appreciated, these acts aren’t even that generous given relativity. Oftentimes, it’s not giving their best.
As a Christian, this passage urges me to give my best at all times. As a college student, financial burdens are real and it is not realistic for me to literally give all I have financially like in the parable. Ultimately this passage is calling us to show up as best we can, given our circumstances, monetary or not.
For the widow, her best was the ability to give her entire self to God. In our lives as college students, this shows up in different ways. It shows up in simple acts like comforting a friend, participating in service work, taking a nap, going for a walk, calling your family, taking care of yourself: whatever feeds your soul. Listening to your needs and showing up best you can is a way we can give all we can to God.