THE SERVANT GENERAL
WHAT TWO WIDOWS CAN TEACH US
November 11, 2012
1 Kings 17:10-16
God loves the poor. Jesus’ mission is to the poor (Lk
4:18). In the mission of Christians they are to be mindful
of the poor (Gal 2:10). We today speak of a preferential option
for the poor. In CFC-FFL this is one of our Core Values.
God reminds us of what He does for the poor. God “secures
justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry. The Lord
sets captives free; the Lord gives sight to the blind. The
Lord raises up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the
righteous. The Lord protects the stranger, sustains the orphan
and the widow” (Ps 146:7-9).
are supposed to love, help and serve the poor, in accordance
with God’s will. Now often we think in terms of those
with resources helping those with scant or even without resources.
This is not the case with two wonderful widows we read about
ancient Israel, widows were generally a sorry lot. They had
no work, no resources, and were even shunned from society.
Together with orphans, they were at the bottom of the social
ladder. They usually managed to exist only through alms.
This is why today’s stories of the two widows are extraordinary.
There is the widow at Zarephath and the poor widow at the
widows exhibited self-sacrificial generosity at tremendous
cost to themselves. The first widow had a handful of flour
and a little oil, just enough for a small meal for her and
her son, before they expected to die (1 Kgs 17:12). She gave
that up for the prophet Elijah. The second widow had two small
coins worth a few cents, which was all she had, her whole
livelihood (Mk 12:42,44c). She put that in the temple treasury.
Both made the sacrifice to honor God. The first widow honored
the request of God’s prophet. The second widow returned
everything she had to God for His use.
here is the wonderful thing. Both were tremendously blessed!
Elijah prophesied that the widow’s jar of flour would
not go empty nor the jug of oil run dry till the rainy season
came (when they could plant and harvest wheat), and she and
her son were able to eat for a year (1 Kgs 17:14-16). The
other widow Jesus himself commended, even making her as an
example to his disciples (Mk 12:43).
What can we learn?
no one is too poor to give. The two widows remove the excuses
of people who do not give to the poor or back to God because
of their own need. “I need this for my family.”
Well, the first widow needed it for her son. “I need
this for my personal needs.” Well, the second widow
went hungry that day. “I need this to beef up my business
or investment for the future.” Well, the first widow
and her son had no future and were just waiting to die, while
the second widow gave her whole livelihood. We can see that
the poor can give the rich a lesson or two.
God measures what we give not by the amount, but by what we
give up for ourselves. If we put this mathematically, the
“rich people put in large sums” (Mk 12:41b) but
they “all contributed from their surplus wealth”
(Mk 12:44a). They probably put in much less than 1% of their
wealth, and what they gave they did not even feel. On the
other hand, the poor widow gave everything she had, “from
her poverty” (Mk 12:44b). She gave 100% such that she
went hungry that day. Talking of percentages, the guideline
for giving back to God is a tithe, that is, 10%. But if that
does not hurt, then we are probably not giving enough.
if we honor God, then God will provide for our needs. The
first widow was looking to a last meal; she and her son feasted
for a year. In fact, God is never outdone in generosity. God
gives back more than we can ever give to Him. The second widow,
being what she was in society, being in the presence of the
rich well-dressed people, was bold but probably ashamed in
approaching the treasury, but Jesus extolled her and held
her up as an example, certainly to be emulated. Imagine, “this
poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to
the treasury.” (Mk 12:43b). Wow! God counts in a very
four, “do not be afraid” (1 Kgs 17:13a) to give.
God will honor our generosity. And God will provide, and provide
Next time you put some money in the collection basket at the
parish, or next time you write a check for your financial
contribution to CFC-FFL, be mindful of all the above. And
know this: Jesus “(sits) down opposite the treasury
and (observes) how the crowd put(s) money into the treasury.”
you win God’s favor and approval.
group discussion in the household:
(1) What are my excuses for not giving a tithe (10%) to God,
through my parish and CFC-FFL?
(2) If you are led to, make a commitment to the brethren to
improve your financial giving, and to give regularly (to the
parish every week or at every Mass; to the community every