Imagine if you took two pennies and put them into a savings account, at 1.5 percent interest annually, and left it there for 2000 years. How much money would there be at the end? (2 cents, 2000 years, at 1.5% interest.) One hundred dollars? No, higher. A thousand dollars? Still higher. Ten thousand dollars? Not even close. There would be one-hundred, seventy-one billion dollars.
[$0.02 * (1.015)^2000 = $171,046,619,000]
First of all, this reveals to us the power and the fury of compound interest. But second, and relevant to today’s gospel, this shows us that small things can be more powerful and valuable than we would expect.
One day, almost two thousand years ago, a poor widow climbed the temple mount in Jerusalem and walked among the crowds in the temple courts to the treasury where she gave two small coins for the support of the temple. Many rich people where there, were pouring much larger gifts into the treasury with great fanfare. Though her gift was tiny compared to theirs, that doesn’t mean that what she did was an easy thing to do. Being poor, it was hard for her, a real sacrifice. She had to trust in the God of Israel; the God said to provide for the needs of orphans and widows like her. She could have dropped in just one coin, or given nothing at all, but she gave both coins, everything she had. She wasn’t trying to be seen, but the Lord was watching.
Jesus, sitting across from the treasury, called His disciples to Himself to draw their attention to her. “Look at what this poor widow has done. Take this, all of you, as an image of myself. Just as she has given everything as a gift of herself to God (even though it was hard and took great trust) so will I give myself up for you.”
The poor widow’s two coins, worth just a few cents, landed in the treasury with a quiet “tink, tink,” but her act has echoed through the centuries. Everywhere this gospel has been preached, the throughout the centuries and around the world, what she did has been remembered. How many consciences have been pricked and how many hearts have been inspired to invest more completely into the kingdom of God? If the good her small deed has done throughout the ages could be quantified, it would far surpass one hundred, seventy-one billion dollars.
When we rise from the dead, at the general resurrection, I suspect that this poor widow will stand out. She will be more glorious and enchantingly beautiful than most, and (even though the gospel does not give her name) everyone will know who see is and she will enjoy the love and gratitude of vast multitudes.
When we die, we will all die penniless, and when we rise we will all rise penniless, but some of us will be richer than others. The richest in heaven are those who receive and can give the greatest love, and this will depend upon how much we have invested ourselves into the kingdom of heaven.
You are already giving to your spouses and your children, your friends and your family, at home, at work, and at church, but we should ask ourselves from time to time how much we are giving from our surplus wealth and how much was are making a total gift of ourselves. Such giving is hard, it takes trust in God, and it conforms us to Jesus Christ. When we give ourselves in this way, in the likeness of Jesus Christ, our gifts yields the greatest returns, here on earth and forever in heaven.
Now you have heard me put in my two cents. I pray that it may result in great profit for your souls.