He 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.”
I used to belong to a spiritual community that was part of the New Thought movement, a movement based on changing one’s thinking and co-creating with God. I eventually left because it lacked a core of social justice and solidarity with the oppressed. However, there was one teaching that has stayed with me through the years since: the law of circulation. The idea is that God gives us gifts of time, treasure and talent, and it is our lifelong mission to keep them circulating toward the highest good in the universe. The “law” states that what you give shall be returned to you from elsewhere in the universe, blessing both giver and receiver in the process. When I read this scripture, I thought of the law of circulation, because the widow’s actions speak to a deep trust and a lack of fear. The widow gives because she trusts in this law, in God’s promise of abundance. She enters into convenantal giving. In giving all she had, she shows her faith in this promise.I know that this “law” works. And yet, I find myself asking questions about trusting this much: What if this woman had children? Would this still be considered an act of faith, or an act of foolishness that could put her children at risk? Compared to so many, I live with an abundance of resources. Am I more like the rich people in this scripture, “contributing from their abundance?” If so, where is the line between giving from abundance and sacrifical giving? The widow does not have a husband who controls or shares the finances and she appeared to be making her own financial decisions. What about those of us who live in partnership with a beloved other who does not share our desire to contribute? In what ways can we make a sacrificial gift without forcing another to sacrifice?
God, help me to circulate toward others all the gifts you circulate toward me. Amen.