Upwards of 100,000 pilgrims from as far away as Spain and Persia passed through the temple of Jerusalem during Passover week. The operation of the temple depended on the donations received that week. They could total the equivalent of millions of dollars. Many wealthy pilgrims, especially those for whom it was the visit of a lifetime, made substantial contributions.
Institutions and organizations today recognize major contributors with “President’s Circle” or “Platinum Circle” donor levels.
During Passover week at the temple, priests were positioned with trumpets next to the collection boxes. When a sizeable contribution landed in the coffers, they blew their trumpets, drawing everyone’s attention to the generous donor. To be sure, the contribution of two coins by the poor widow in today’s gospel received no fanfare. No one noticed except Jesus. Today’s first reading tells of another widow who used the last of her oil and flour to make a meal for Elijah, trusting in the prophet’s word that her flour jar would not go empty or her jug of oil run dry as a reward for her generosity. The gospel does not mention a similar reward for the poor widow who gave the last of her money, but I’m sure God took care of that in due time.