“This poor widow put in more… . ” (Mark 12:43)
What a contrast! Jesus had just finished warning his disciples against the scribes who liked to parade around in long robes and be treated with honor. He even accused them of devouring “the houses of widows” (Mark 12:40). And in the very next scene, we see a poor widow giving generously to the Temple treasury— donating “her whole livelihood” (12:44). In just a few short verses, we are shown both the oppressor and the oppressed, the selfish and the selfless, the rich and the poor.
Jesus often drew sharp lines between different groups of people. He contrasted the healthy with the sick (Mark 2:17), the blind with the seeing (John 9:39), and the righteous with the sinners (Matthew 9:13). Speaking with all the drama of a seasoned preacher, he made sure the people knew that there was no middle ground when it came to obeying God. We are either for him or we are against him.
This can sound rather intimidating, especially when we consider the jumbled mix of sin and holiness in our own hearts. Does that mean that we aren’t good enough? Does the sin remaining in us cancel out whatever holiness we may have achieved?
Not at all. Jesus knows all about us, and he still loves us. He still invites us to be with him. He even offers us his own body and blood in the Eucharist! Clearly, Jesus isn’t looking for perfection. He’s looking for desire. All he wants is for us to come to him and ask him to heal us and lift us up.
Jesus can deal with your sin—he already has! He can deal with your failings and weaknesses. What he can’t deal with is a heart that is closed tight against him. That’s what he saw in the scribes he condemned. Their places of honor, their wealth, their knowledge—none of that disqualified them. It was that they weren’t even trying to live in the humility and openness that would bring them closer to his Father.
So don’t worry about perfection. Just try to give your heart to Jesus, and he will take it, mold it, and fill it with the fire of his love.
“Here I am, Lord, warts and all. Mold me and shape me according to your wisdom.”