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Sharon Wilson, a recent widow, shares the story of the Widow’s Mite and notes how, like the widow in in the Bible, we all have much to give.  

We have all heard the story of the Widow's Mite. It appears in the Gospels of both Mark and Luke. It is the story of the poor widow giving her last two coins.   

When he looked up, he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins. He said, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.” (Luke 21:1-4) 


The mite is the name of the coin mentioned in the story. It is the smallest denomination. Truly, it is worth less than a penny is today. The story is often called on to discuss tithing or giving to the Church, but it has a different meaning for me.   

The poverty of being a widow can be financial (indeed, I am now trying to figure out how to live on one income and finances are a constant worry), but the poverty of being a widow comes in many other ways. There is the poverty of relationships, the poverty of companionship, and the poverty of an unknown future—or at least the future I had envisioned.   




While on pilgrimage in Jerusalem last year, my sister and I wandered into a shop along the streets of Old Jerusalem to ask for directions to the New Gate. This jewelry and antiquities store was clearly out of my price range and after the salesman pulled out a map to get us going in the right direction, he showed us some of his wares. Among the necklaces and coins, he showed us a widow's mite. He had no idea I was a recent widow, but I took on a new interest in his wares as he told me about the coin.   

The coin is made of bronze and is also called a lepton, meaning “small.” It was minted in 103-76 BC and was still in circulation in Jesus' time.   

While I couldn't afford his piece, a few stalls down the road, I found a shop that sold replicas and bought a pendant with the coin. It seemed a fitting souvenir for this trip where I had poured out the grief of my widowhood at every step of the way. Here was an item that I could connect with my state of life as a widow.   

Like the poor widow in the Gospels, I have been living my life since my husband Dave's death thinking I have very little to offer. I feel like I am too old to start over and too young to settle into widowhood in some "old lady" way. I have always been a forward-thinking person. I seem to rarely be able to even live in the moment as I am always thinking about what next, but since Dave's death I have been clinging to the past.  


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The poverty of being a widow can be financial, but it also comes in many other ways. #CatholicMom


Later, during our last dinner in the Holy Land, I showed the pendant to Sr. Maria Ivana, one of the other pilgrims on the trip. Immediately she said to me, "Like the widow, you have a lot left to give."   

I bought the pendant as a souvenir but never thought about what its meaning might be for me. I took her words and have been reflecting on them since.   

The widow's mite now hangs on a new chain. I wear it often, to remind me that I DO have a lot to give, my whole livelihood! It has given me hope for my future and has me wondering how I can serve God and others in a possible new way.   

"But she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood." (Mark 12:44b) 




Copyright 2023 Sharon Wilson
Images: Canva