July-August 2018 - The Widow's Mite

July 1, 2018 by Kathryn Kimball (Curadora, Capilla de El Aposento Alto - Museo de Arte Cristiano)
Artist: Louis S. Glanzman 
(USA, Contemporary)

The story of the Widow’s Offering is a familiar passage of scripture to many of us.  I am struck, however, by the way Glanzman’s portrait of the widow brings us face-to-face with her life.  Her eyes compel viewers to see the world from her perspective.

I can imagine the widow as she watches the people in the Temple treasury freely tossing their money into the thirteen trumpet-shaped offering boxes.  She clutches two coins to her weary body.  To me, her warm and loving eyes show a fleeting moment of concern.  Is it enough? she wonders.  Should I keep one coin to buy something to eat or for my next visit to the Temple?  I wish I had more to give but this is all that I have.  And in that moment, she selflessly gives everything — both coins.

Glanzman positions two coins at the bottom of the frame, nearly out of sight but appropriately near her heart.  The mite or lepton was the smallest coin in value in Judea.  Is it enough?  Her question is answered in the words of Jesus as he tells his disciples, “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” (Luke 21:3-4, NRSV).  Amid a crowd of people at the Temple treasury, Jesus noticed this poor widow and praised her gift.

What of us?  Do we give only out of our abundance, or do we give as the widow gave?  As we contemplate this issue’s cover art, let us consider how we can follow the widow’s example.


Cover photo courtesy of the artist.  © 2002 Louis S. Glanzman.  Prints of cover art are available at louisglanzman.com.


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