First will be last and last will be first
In today’s passage a contrast is set up between the teachers of the law and a widow.
The teacher’s of the law act like they have an absolute knowledge. They believe they have a corner on the market, yet Jesus begins (in today’s reading) with demonstrating how little they actually know. Not only does he use this passage to demonstrate how the teacher’s of the law had incorrectly pointed to the identity of the Messiah, believing that he would come as a secular King in what they recognized as the line of David inaugurating a second age of the Maccabees (the Jewish revolt between the rule of the Greeks and the rule of the Romans), but Jesus chooses one of the most difficult to understand of the psalms to make his point. By revealing their own ignorance, he demonstrates that those who would use their intellect to Lord it over people know nothing still when compared to the LORD.
Jesus also notes the hypocrisy inherit in this group. They demand to be treated with honor, they wear clothing that indicates they are somehow holier than all others. They give lengthy prayers, and make sure others see them. Yet they think nothing of taking the life, property and being from the poor and vulnerable of society.
Speaking of the poor and vulnerable, a widow, much like the one Jesus was previously referencing, comes into the temple. Jesus commends her as the one who gave the most because she gives “out of her poverty.” People commend large donors. They like those who give millions or billions of dollars. A lot of respect has been given, for instance, to Bill Gates who has pledged to give away most of his wealth. To be sure, his gifts may be generous, but at the end of the day, he will still live his life as a billionaire up until his death, even if he gives away 99%+ of his wealth. This is not to say his acts are terrible. Instead, it is to note that the one who gives when it hurts, who gives time they do not have, or funds when they have very little, the one who recognizes her/his situation as one of blessing and so wishes to bless others, even in the midst of poverty, this is the one who should be commended. A million acts of charity and love and sacrifice, greater than the monetary gifts of a billionaire, exist all around us every day. Jesus calls us to stop and try to take notice.