Reflections - November 8, 2015

“This poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury…..she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.”  Mk. 12:44.
 
Today’s readings present us with the example of generosity from two widowed women.
 
In the first reading Elijah asks a widow from the town of Zarephath for a little bit of water and a piece of bread.  The prophet knew the patriarchal structures in which the widow lived in the absence of her husband.  The helplessness and poverty marginalized her.  It is the same situation that Jesus found with the widow in the temple.  What moved these widowers to be generous with what little they had?
 
I always remember with fondness a visit to a country in the Caribbean.  We arrived at night to the home of a family and upon seeing us there in their hut they shared with our group the little chicken that they had to eat for that week.
 
At the end of the reunion I asked them what they would be eating tomorrow.  They answered:  “When you give generously, the Lord returns more”.  The next day the owner of a nearby farm upon learning of our visit returned to them much more than what they had given with groceries.  There what the Lord says was fulfilled:  “The jar of flour did not go empty, nor the jug of oil ran dry”. 
 
Another example of generosity is found in today’s Gospel.  Jesus observed the people giving money and among them “a poor widow”.  A woman who passed unnoticed by many, but not for the Lord of Mercy.
 
Perhaps this widow could not give thanks in the Temple for material goods received, but inside she felt beloved and grateful to God.  And it is to this woman that the Lord looks upon and gives us as an example of generosity.  Discouragement and despair did not strip her of her generosity and her faith in God.
 
Today we also find very generous people in our community who put their time, their charisma, and their generosity in the service of the most needy.
 
I know a young doctor who was baptized and received the sacraments and is now working voluntarily as a Doctor without Borders in a Central American country.  Here is hoping that the example of generosity of these two widowed women fed with the Body of Christ help us to be generous with the gifts and talents received towards our family, work, parish, and helping others, as a saint once said “until it hurts”.