TWO UNNAMED WIDOWS (Fr. Varghese Paul, S.J.)

There are two remarkable widows in the New Testament. One of them is a poor widow who puts two little copper coins in the offering box of the Temple. Both Mark and Luke have narrated her story. The other widow is from a town called Nain. Only Evangelist Luke narrates her story.

We do not know anything about the names, family background or the social and financial standing of the two widows. But Jesus has encountered both these widows and taken note of their pitiful situation. Consequently, both the widows have become immortal characters in the New Testament. Both the widows also awake compassion in our hearts.

Both Luke and Mark have narrated the story of the widow putting two copper coins in the offertory box in four verses each. Here I quote Marks version, As Jesus sat near the temple treasury, he watched the people as they dropped in their money. Many rich men dropped in a lot of money; then a poor widow came along and dropped in two little copper coins, worth about a penny. He called his disciples together and said to them, I tell you that this poor widow put more in the offering box than all the others. For the others put in what they had to spare of their riches; but she, poor as she is, put in all she had - she gave all she had to live on (Mark 12, 41-44).

The Jewish people from all over Judea flocked to the Temple at Jerusalem during the whole week of Paschal feast and participated in the worship. There was an offertory box along the wall of the temple. Like the Jews, Jesus and his disciples also went to the Temple during the Paschal feast. Jesus was sitting near the offertory box and watching the people putting their offering in the box. Some rich people were offering big sum of money. Then, Jesus saw a poor woman putting two copper coins in the offertory box. Perhaps, Jesus had known the poor widow, perhaps not. The poor widow was alone without any assistance. That could be one reason, perhaps, that Jesus noticed her and her very generous offering. So Jesus called his disciples and pointed to the old womans offering as an inspiring example of generosity and self-sacrifice.

Jesus and his disciples saw good many people putting their offerings in the offertory box. Many rich people put large sum of money while some poor people put in negligible sum. The two copper coins of the poor woman were insignificant offering in the sight of the people. But for Jesus, who does not go by mere appearance but looks into the hearts of the people, took special note of the poor widows offering of two copper coins. So he knew that the poor widow had given everything she had in her offering and he said to his disciples, I tell you that this poor widow put more in the offering box than all the others. For the others put in what they had to spare of their riches; but she, poor as she is, put in all she had - she gave all she had to live on (Mark 12, 44).

Today not only the people who read the Bible but others too know about the widows offering. Widows offering or the widows mite has become a popular phrase in English language and also a symbol of giving all and making big sacrifice.

Only Luke narrates the incident of Jesus raising to life the only son of the widow of Nain. As Jesus and his disciples approached the village Nain they met a funeral procession. The villagers were carrying the coffin of a poor widows son to be buried as Jewish custom was. The widow was following the coffin.

Jesus felt compassion and took pity for the helpless widow. As in our times the situation of a widow was sad and terrible in the time of Jesus. This widow of Nain had nobody to depend on except her only son. Now he too is dead. One can imagine the widows predicament.

Jesus was well aware of the sad flight of widows and that is why he accused the Pharisees and the lawyers that How terrible for you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You take advantage of widows and rob them of their homes (Mt. 23, 14). Many important manuscript of the Bible do not give this verse 14. So Good News Bible has given this verse 14 in the foot-note.

In the beginning of Jesus public ministry, as Mathew has noted, Jesus used to preach in Jewish Synagogues and went around the preaching his message (see Mt. 4, 23-25). Wherever Jesus went, not only his disciples but also a crowd followed him.

The Pall-bearers and the poor widow encountered Jesus and the accompanying crowd. Luke has described the scene and Jesus miracle. Jesus went to a town called Nain, accompanied by his disciples and a large crowd. Just as he arrived at the gate of the town, a funeral procession was coming out. The dead man was the only son of a woman who was a widow, and a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart was filled with pity for her, and he said to her, Dont cry. Then he walked over and touched the coffin, and the men carrying it stopped. Jesus said, Young man! Get up, I tell you! The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother (Lk. 7, 11-15).

Jesus was certainly moved to pity seeing the wailing widow for his only son. With much compassion Jesus not only consoled her Dont not cry; but he also gave back her son alive with a command of authority Young man! Get up, I tell you! A physician and evangelist Luke has described the whole scene very beautifully. It must have been a hair-raising experience for the disciples and the crowd, which followed Jesus. We are also moved by reading the narration and are impressed by the Jesus compassion and his power over death and life in raising a death man back to life.

We do not know what was the reaction and response of the young man brought back to life and his widowed mother. They both must have rejoiced greatly and must have proclaimed the compassion and mercy of Jesus during their whole life.(contact the author: यह ईमेल पता spambots से संरक्षित किया जा रहा है. आप जावास्क्रिप्ट यह देखने के सक्षम होना चाहिए. )

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