July 29, 2014

The Swindler and the Widow's Mite

from The Parables of Kierkegaard
edited by Thomas Oden

Is charitable intent essential to an act of charity or mercy?

Take the story about the woman who placed the two pennies in the temple-treasury [Mark 12: 41-44], but let us poetize a little variation. The two pennies were for her a great sum, which she had not quickly accumulated. She had saved for a long time in order to get them saved up, and then she had hidden them wrapped in a little cloth in order to bring them when she herself went up to the temple. But a swindler had detected that she possessed this money, had tricked her out of it, and had exchanged the cloth for an identical piece which was utterly empty - something which the widow did not know. Thereupon she went up to the temple, placed, as she intended, the two pennies, that is, nothing, in the temple-treasury: I wonder if Christ would not still have said what he said of her, that "she gave more than all the rich?"

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