Friday, November 09, 2012

Pedestal Problems

One of the lectionary readings for this week is Mark 12:38-44 which includes the story of the widow's mite. She, who has very little, gives much. I bring today two quotes from Emilie Townes in Daily Feast:
Sacrifice is a dangerous notion. It is dangerous because we often ask those who are the most vulnerable to give the most.
At times, it seems that sacrifice is best when someone else is doing it. We marvel at such figures as Mother Teresa....We lift them high on the pedestal with the poor widow, keeping them distinct and distant from our daily lives. The focus is on their giving and the inadequacy of ours -- but nothing changes. This is one of the problems of things we put on pedestals. We do not imagine ourselves alongside them because what they represent for us is often more than we can give or more than we can imagine we are capable of giving.
Is the story about the widow being a model of giving? Or is it more about our inadequacy of giving? Do we put the widow on the pedestal, comparing our giving to hers and coming up short, but never imagining we could do any differently?

A pastor I heard preach once said that the story isn't a model of giving. Why is the widow expected to give at all? She is so very much in need of help from those around her who are watching her give. Why aren't they working to change her life circumstances? Why have we placed her on a pedestal when we should be giving to help her? Reaching out to her?

What is the story really about? What does it mean to you and me?

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