6  |  ROBERTA M. DAMON Dear Little Widow, H ad you lived in my century, you might well have gone back to school, learned a trade, taken a job and been able to take care of yourself. Living as you did in the first century, you were out of luck—no survivor’s benefits or social security for you. Our system isn’t perfect, but it’s better than yours—having to have a father, a husband, or a son to look after you. And what on earth were you thinking, taking the last pitiful little coins you had and giving them to the temple treasury? Surely, all those rich men showing off their wealth could have supplied the temple with all that was needed. Your little coins could not have helped much—not at the temple, and not when it came time for you to buy groceries. If I close my eyes, I can picture the scene: the crowd gathers at the templetreasurywaitingtoseewhichlavishlydressedmanwill,withgreat ceremony, put into the offering more than anyone else. He approaches with much pomp—a false humility marking his countenance. He heaves the heavy metal coins against the metal of the receptacle. Metal on metal makes a cacophonous sound. The crowd cheers. The generous giver bows his head as if in obeisance to God, but he hears the crowd’s tumultuous response. Smiling inwardly he goes his way, satisfied that he has given more than anyone else—and it was duly noted. He has done it to the approval of the temple crowd. And then, I can see you. You do not come with ceremony. You are shabbily dressed, and the crowd pays you no attention. The temple faithful are still commenting to each other what a wonderful thing it was that the rich man gave so much—sighing that one day, perhaps, they too, will be wealthy and able to give a substantial offering to the religious crowd’s great cheers. Public recognition has its compensations. However, if public deeds are done for recognition, then the purpose and reward are served. You hold a different intention. Like Jesus’ message in the Sermon on the Mount, your offering related to the acts of righteousness in almsgiving, prayer, and fasting should be in private, between the individual and God. So, you are not noticed. You are just a woman—a poor one at that—a