Note that both Jesus and the widow are in the background of the painting. The foreground features a religious official who resembles those Jesus described as liking to walk around in long robes and be greeted with respect.

“They devour widows’ houses…” – Mark 12:40a

“…But she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” – Mark 12:44b

So what was your expression, Jesus,
when you called your friends to see
the widow whose last coins had rattled down
into the treasury collection?

Did you watch with soft, approving eyes,
to see such faith, such generosity,
such confidence of God’s aloha
to relieve the crisis now at hand?

Or did your brow bear furrows
of concern, of worry, for her poverty
had now reached destitution, and
her final meal had clinked into the box?

Or did you grind your teeth to witness on
the Temple grounds the very thing
of which you’d warned? For here
a widow’s house had been consumed.

Oh, Jesus! Have you any teeth remaining in
your jaws? Or do you lubricate
their grinding with your tears? For still
the widows bring their homes… and we devour.

A poem/prayer based on Mark 12:38-44, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel Reading for Year B, Proper 27 (32).

The image is O óbolo da viúva (The Widow’s Mite) by João Zeferino da Costa (1876) – Scan: MNBA/Banco Santos catalogue, São Paulo, 2002., Public Domain,

I Got a… Denarius

When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received [a denarius] the usual daily wage. – Matthew 20:9

“I got a rock.” – Charlie Brown in It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Nobody hired us. You could say I didn’t try.
At least, I didn’t try the ones with work.
I promise you I tried the ones that didn’t,
at least the ones who said they didn’t.

Another day of working to find work;
another day of working without pay;
another day of wondering just how
the evening’s meal will come together.

“Why are you standing here so idle all the day?”
“I’ve chased the ones who will not hire
from this end of the marketplace to that.
So now, I stand, because there is no hope for work.”

Or is there?

Now that was just an hour ago. I worked
to pull the weeds and stake the vines,
but to be honest, darkness came too soon
to make much impact on this vineyard.

Darkness came too soon to make much impact
on the emptiness of my larder.
Darkness came too soon for work to be
rewarded with enough to keep our lives.

But look: there in my hand. The owner
of the vineyard has presented me
with a denarius, a coin whose worth
will keep us fed today, perhaps tomorrow.

I run back to the marketplace
for oil and flour, beans and dates.
My family will not believe
the owner’s generosity – I hardly do!

Behind me I hear quarrelling.
I pay no mind if others’ eyes are evil.
My family will eat tonight
because someone was good.

I usually imagine Jesus’ parable from the perspective of the all-day workers, the ones “who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.” For this poem/prayer, I thought I’d choose another point of view.

A poem/prayer based on Matthew 20:1-16, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel Reading for Year A, Proper 20 (25).

Photo of a denarius by Classical Numismatic Group, Inc., CC BY-SA 3.0,

Help of the Helpless

Father of orphans and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.
God gives the desolate a home to live in; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious live in a parched land. – Psalm 68:5-6

I am grateful, O God, to know
the people for whom You labor,
the people for whom You care.

You care for the homeless.
You care for the resource-less.
You care for the refugee.

I am grateful, O God, to know
the people for whom You care.
Do You wonder why people do not?

A poem/prayer based on Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35, the Revised Common Lectionary Psalm Reading for Year A, seventh Sunday of Easter.

The image is a portrait of Tomomichi Yuuki, “Mizuhan portrait”, Public Domain,

At the Gate

Can God forgive what I will not repent?

“And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores…” – Luke 16:20

Silently hungry, silently suffering,
there at the gate.
Silently sick, silently homeless,
there at the gate.

They are the gates of nations.
They are the gates of cities.
They are the gates of families.
They are the gates of… me.

Silently hungry, silently suffering,
there at the gate.
Silently sick, silently homeless,
there at the gate.

Lay there, Lazarus, lay there.
Hold your silence. Hold your peace.
Hold your hunger. Hold your illness.
Hold your need. I…

I will hold my greed.

A poem/prayer based on Luke 16:19-31, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel reading for Year C, Proper 21.

The painting is the Parable of Lazarus by Fyodor Bronnikov, ca. 1886 –ПритчаоЛазаре._1886.jpg, Public Domain,