38 As he taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, 39 and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! 40 They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” 41 He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. 43 Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. 44 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 12:38-44)
When we read this text, we can see pretty clearly that Jesus had some issues with “higher-ups” of his day. All they want are places of honor. They take from widows — he uses the word “devour” here, isn’t that kind of striking? — and they show of their praying prowess. Yes, he has problems with them. Yet, as he’s critiquing them, he sees something that many people would have missed that day.
Outside of the treasury at the temple or synagogue is a poor widow. She, unlike the “higher-ups” around her, is only able to give a small sum. In fact, he says she has given everything she had. He sees her. He knows her struggles. And he names them for the disciples, for the community around him. But notice that he does not outwardly bless what she has done. Jesus doesn’t throw open the treasury and give her what she needs to survive from day to day. He simply sees her and her struggle, and points others to it.
I saw a kids’ show this morning as I was getting ready for my day — one that kind of did what Jesus is doing in this text. It invited kids to look at the people in their world whose contributions are easily looked over, or even undervalued. Janitorial work. Cafeteria worker. The kids only “saw” those persons when they experienced their work. And it finally clicked for them that every person has a place, deserves to be seen and valued. That the world isn’t about the high power jobs all the time, but about caring for each other no matter what we do or what we have.
Know today, that Jesus sees you. He loves you and values you. He wants you to be seen and loved and valued by those around you. No matter what you have or don’t have, he is still your Lord. And he asks us to see those who go unnoticed. Those who, like the poor widow, don’t give or contribute in order to gain honor or praise — but who give of themselves in thankful response to the life granted to them by him. He doesn’t ask us to try and win his honor or favor by what we have, do, or can give. Nor the favor of the world. He just wants us to know we are loved, seen, heard. And that it’s important to see the unseen. To take care of one another. To love because he first loved us.
Who can you “see” for the first time this week, month, or year? What might God be asking of you when you finally “see” them?