Jesus 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.” – Luke 21:1-2 (NRSVue)
When the news broke about student loan forgiveness, I was glad for everyone who will benefit, including my three older children: a social work grad student, a full-time toddler parent, and a first-year teacher. The relief will be welcome, although if it does not come, they will be okay.
I think we’re like the overhearing crowd who Jesus wanted to reach when he pointed out the widow. Jesus is at the Temple, close to the end of his earthly ministry, talking to his friends within earshot of lots of other people. He’s just warned that the elites of the community—who take advantage of widows but like to show off their religion in public—will be condemned. Then this poor widow comes into view, a living illustration, giving her all to the system that ought to be taking care of her.
Imagine what Jesus would notice in our public square. He would see a system that privileges education but makes it unaffordable for most. He would see powerful, well-resourced people declaring those who are neither to be lazy or undeserving. He would see our collective resistance to forgiving debts even when we pray for ours to be forgiven.
He would see this poor widow, striving still.
Holy One, give us courage to change the systems that harm people, in your name. Amen.