November 11, 2018, Thirty Second Sunday in Year B
Giving from our Hearts!
A saying goes that “Wrapped in love, the tiniest gift becomes a treasure”. This entails that an offering is never too small when it is given from the heart. When you offer anything in love it will never be too small. This is so because the biggest gift is the one given from your heart. The readings of today present us with two widows who teach us that we must give from our hearts whether we are rich or poor!
When the books of Old Testament refer to the poor they often list three categories of people: the stranger, the orphan and the widow (Deut 14:29). The Hebrew Scriptures constantly invite people to be sensitive to the needs of these three types of vulnerable people: the stranger, the orphan and the widow (Ps 94:6; Jer 7:11).
At a time of scarcity, Prophet Elijah, as recounted in the First Reading of today, instead of helping the widow, requests help from her. The poor widow generously offers the prophet the last bit of food that she had. The Lord God blesses her generosity, abundantly: “The jar of meal was not spent nor the jug of oil emptied” (1Kings 1:16). The widow chose to do the virtuous thing. She gave that which she really needed. She gave from her need, all for a Greater Need, for the Need for God. And God rewarded her as she and her son survived the drought and famine.
The Gospel also presents us with the example of a widow from which the English word ‘widow’s mite’ has become popular. Jesus is sitting in the Temple with his disciples, in the area where people made donations to the Temple. Some would come with large sums of money and made sure that others would see them. The widow by putting her two little coins gave from what she herself really needed, but caring for God’s house meant more to her than her own needs. She had a Greater Need, the Need for God in her life.
God first, then the rest! Here is what the Lord wants: “Seek you first the Kingdom of heaven and its justice, and all the remainder will be given to you”. Isn’t our God provident? This truth as we see was tried out by the widow. We see in her the attitude of total abandonment to divine providence, responsibility and freedom, certain that God will provide. In fact this eloquent attitude expresses the faith as total dependence on God. This we must understand it once and for all if we want to gain salvation.
A question that we can all ask ourselves then is: what is it that I am still holding on to – that prevents me from totally surrendering myself to God? The widow’s gift dripped rich in meaning because “she has given everything she has.” In other words, she gave from her heart. Jesus is emphasizing that our gifts have meaning and impact based on the way they are given, not merely based on their size.
Jude Thaddeus Langeh, cmf
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