What is the Widow’s Mite?

“Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

The Widow’s Mite.  That’s the title that has been given to this particular parable of Jesus’, and it is a story that has a long history of being used as the final proclamation in stewardship sermons.  The gift of the widow, all that she had to live on, is more than the gifts of those that contribute to the treasury out of their abundance.  It is an interesting way of describing the story that we find in Mark’s text, primarily because of the many definitions of the word “mite” in the English dictionary.

The traditional definition of the word in this usage is to define the word as a small contribution or a very small sum of money or a coin of little value.  Though that definition certainly fits the usage of the word, it is not the oldest way that the term is defined in the English language.  The oldest usage of the word mite is to describe small, arachnid like creatures that feed on other plants and animals.  Many of these creatures are parasitic, which is to say that they feed on their hosts at the expense of the plant or animal. Continue reading