Blog #284 Two Widows
The 1st and 3rd Bible readings at Mass on the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, were 1 Kings 17: 10 - 16, and Mark 12: 38 - 44. Each of the readings tells us of a poor widow.
In the first reading the prophet Elijah goes to Zarephath. At the entrance to the city he meets a poor widow gathering sticks. It was a time of a terrible drought. Elijah asks her in the name of God for a cup of water and some bread. All the widow has is a "handful of flour and a little oil". She is gathering the sticks for a fire to make something for herself and her son "before we die"...
The prophet tells her not to be afraid, to do what she had planned but first give him what he requested. With his request he gives the widow a promise. "For the Lord God says, ' The jar of flour shall not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry until the day when the Lord sends rain upon the earth." She left and did as Elijah had said. She was able to eat for a year...the jar of flour did not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, as the Lord had foretold through
The lesson proposed in this story is that God is worthy of unconditional trust. Every promise God makes will be fulfilled.
The second widow is also very poor. Jesus notices her putting a small donation in one of the collection baskets placed at the entrances to the temple and calls over his disciples to tell them the widow put in more than all the rest who contributed much more money but only from their surplus and for show whereas the widow put in less but all she had, motivated not by hope of being praised or for show but in response to her relationship with God and her conviction God was worth her entire love.
The lesson proposed in this story is that God is worthy of our total love. Everything that exists is a gift from God. All of creation invites us to discover and enter into a personal relationship with God, that of total love resulting in praise thanksgiving peace and joy.
A new and very impressive insight came to me yesterday in the response of Jesus to the love of the second widow. Our eternal triune infinite God, Father, Word, and Holy Spirit, cannot 'be' nor be imagined as 'experiencing' the limitations of our human responses such as appreciation and gratitude for the love of those around us, including the love of God in creation, as wonderful and worthy as these limitations might be for us. However in the experience of the historical Jesus, Emmanuel, God-Among-Us, equal to us in all but sin and equal to the Father and the Spirit as the Person of the Eternal Word, God could and did experience our human emotions. This was born out in His response to the generous love of the poor widow in the temple. I saw Jesus as humanly proud of the widow and humanly happy in seeing her generous love. It brought to mind the words of Isaiah (62: 5) : "as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you".
"Come here and look at this", He called to His disciples. Then He told them the poor widow gave more than all the rest in giving all she had and we have another example of the love He had been telling them about and living among them in His love and generosity to people in need even down to sinners, and would show them (and us !) at its best from His experience of total love for our Father God in His human death on Calvary and which would be available to every human creature ever to be created if only they had it explained to them by the word and example of those who would know by faith the real meaning of death is total love and death is the only opportunity given to fulfill perfectly the first of all the Commandments , to love God by giving over to Him all we have.
Isn't it time in our current moment of almost instantaneous world-wide communication to take the Savior's command to evangelize the entire world more seriously and personally at least by daily prayer and by any other means the Lord may put at our disposal to tell the world that to die means to love at its best? Lord help us be worthy to give You this perfect love as You are the only one worthy to receive it. Amen !