The widow’s mite

The other day an Irish friend of mine commented on my earlier blog about the incarnation, which referred to the idea that even one tear of the baby Jesus would have sufficed to redeem the world. He thought I had missed part of the point and had a good story to make that point: the widow’s mite.

It’s a story from the gospels (Mk 12:38-44 and Lk 20:45-21:4 actually) about a poor widow who donates two mites (the smallest coin around) into the temple treasury. She is contrasted to the rich people who give much more, but they’re giving from their abundance. The widow however gives everything she has.

According to my Irish friend it is essential to the Christian idea of the incarnation that God does not give from his abundance, but that He gives everything He has. I knew that, but I’ve never heard it being explained by the story of the widow’s mite.

God is a poor widow, there’s incarnation for you…


2 Responses to “The widow’s mite”

  1. The story of the widow’s mite is indeed beautiful!

    When God “gives everything He has”, does that refer to the giving of His Son?

    Could you elaborate on why the Christian idea of Incarnation requires that God not give from His abundance, but must give everything He has? I’m interested in that logic.

    Of course, as perfect as Christian logic may be, God is not bound by what the human mind can understand. That is assuredly a whole different subject!

    Your “Incarnation” posts are fascinating!

    The mentioning of your “Irish friend” reminds me that, last night, the significantly Irish-Catholic State of Massachusetts (includes Boston) elected an anti-Obama Protestant Republican to replace the deceased Irish-Catholic Ted Kennedy. That changes the balance of our Senate and jeopardizes the passage of a bill providing universal health care for Americans. Over here, this is a major event and is a regrettable event, in my view.


  2. shirhashirim Says:

    If you ask me, it has very little to do with logic, at least in the mathematical sense. These are, after all, stories. Those tend to have a literary sense of logic.

    As far as I understand, God doesn’t ‘have to’ give everything (that belongs to the realm of mathematical logic), He just does (and that’s a literary topos), because nothing that God does is as imperfect as giving from your abundance.

    That’s how I’ve understood it anyway…

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