She stumbled in unnoticed, jostled by those more important than her, men in long-flowing robes, men who had the best seats in worship and places of honor at banquets, men who said long prayers to be noticed by others. At best, such men saw only an irritation, an annoyance, to their own praise of God. Likely, however, they did not see her at all.
But this day perhaps she wanted to be noticed. For once, she yearned not to be a forgotten non-being, a widow abandoned by those closest to her.
For if they had observed her, they would see a woman who had nothing left, whose whole life was found in two small coins, not even enough for a next meal.
Yet, she took what little she had and gave it all to God.
And as she scooted away, lost in that religious crowd, what she did not see was the One who saw her.
For he lifted her up in words that have lasted through the ages. He turned to his followers and said, “Do you see her? Do you SEE her? Do you see HER?”
“Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:43-44)
“Do you see her?” the One said. Do you see her faith? Do you see her utter, complete, total trust in God? Her faith puts those religious leaders to shame. Her faith puts us to shame. Do you see her?
“Do you see her?” the One said. Do you see how those so-called leaders ignore her? Do you see how they casually and callously accept that offering, even while they dismiss it, not understanding that they have devoured her house, devoured her very self, by taking in that little she gave? Do you see her?
So we also have ignored her throughout all these centuries. We hold her up as a model for giving to our own church treasuries, but have we seen her? If we push ourselves, we might even see in her a call to justice, but have we seen her?
Have we seen her in the poor and widows among us? Have we seen her in the homeless family living out of their car in the Walmart parking lot? Have we seen her in the desperate teenager who struggles to be accepted with his or her sexuality? Have we seen her in the faces of the immigrants, hoping to find a new and better life in a country not their own? Have we seen her in families who have lost loved ones or had their sacred spaces defaced, only because their religion is different than our own? Have we seen her?
We do not know how the story ends. The widow wanders home, if she has one left. And Jesus and his followers move on, closer to the cross.
But I would like to think that there was someone close by Jesus that day, who on that day saw that widow for the first time, who recognized that woman as a neighbor. They followed the woman to her house and then invited her into their own. They provided a meal for her that night. And as those days proceeded, they made certain that her jar of meal would not be emptied and her jug of oil would not fail. They took that widow in and loved her as a neighbor even as they loved themselves. And in so doing, they discovered that their faith in God grew as they came to know the faith of that woman.
I would like to think that this is how the story really ended. Because then the story would give me hope that perhaps my own eyes will be open to the hope and faith and trust that surround me in the unlikeliest of places. The story would then give me hope that no more widow’s houses will be devoured, that no more families will live in cars, that all people will be loved as children of God, no matter their orientation, immigrant status or religion.
All this, because we see her.