In Mark 12:38 – 44 we read of two occasions where Jesus spoke about widows.
*In verse 40 Jesus uses widows as examples of poor or powerless people who are exposed to the abuse of power of the scribes with their fancy clothes. Jesus denounces the way they act towards the poor widows.
*In verse 43 Jesus puts a widow in the center of His discipleship school! The disciples must learn from her. Jesus does not only put the poor widow (who faced injustice from the scribes) before His disciples as an example – He also restores her dignity. She is not someone to look down on. In fact, the disciples must look up to her, like people of God should look up to their seniors.
In the time in which Mark writes this, widows are the prime example of people who have been reduced to poverty. Because of the cultural and socio-economic environment there was very little they could do about their situation. If they were not supported within their family structure, they became dependent on the favours and charity of others.
In our time the effects of HIV strain the resources of governments and widows are often not cared for by family and state systems – there are just too many of them! These women become caught up in a battle for survival.
The stigma that still exists around HIV further means that people who become ill are often rejected and disparaged. For many this rejection is even worse that the terminal illness.
Yet it is often from these disparaged people that we can learn!
And we can start this learning by discovering that they are people with dignity.