So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; 4 for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings [a]for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had”.
(Luke 21:3-4 NKJV)
Often in the biblical text there are characters that we could call "minor" because they have no name or because they appear fleetingly. Among these are the widows we meet, in concrete stories or in parables. It was in the temple that Jesus' gaze rested precisely on a widow, who was also poor (Mark 12:41-44). One class was that of widows who, together with orphans, were among the forgotten and placed on the margins of society. No one took care of them. Yet the pentateuch ordered them to have some attention. The same God is presented as "father of the fatherless, a defender of widows" (Psalm 68:5). We should also look at them carefully. The prophet Isaiah also exhorts in the name of the Eternal: "Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow" (Isaiah 1:17). Only after he encourages "come and we discuss". Which means that there are progressive passages, which we cannot ignore. Before going to the presence of God, our gaze must turn to our height, to those in need.
Elijah is sent out of the country in times of famine. In Sarepta he meets a widow, in worse conditions than his, to whom he asks first to drink and then to eat. Thus we witness the materialization of the providence of God, where there was nothing and through whom nothing or little had. God needs very little. The widow has very little, to the point that she is ready to die, and initially she resists the prophet. It is these words that give her the courage to do as requested. "Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. 14 For thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth" (1 Kings 17:13-14). Probably even the widow who sees Jesus in the temple lives her last days in resignation. She has just two coins. She could provide for lunch that day. But we see her arrive silently in the crowd of the temple, in her extreme poverty she approaches the offer boxes and there she drops "everything she had". She feels in his heart the need as he thinks to support the temple. She feels the need to give, what is in her possibilities. And she does so not to invest in divine mercy, nor with the attitude of those who go to plant in the field of miracles. I am sure that in her heart there is nothing but faith, the certainty that God cares for her, as happened for the widow of Sarepta.
We are challenged to have faith and courage to take what is available to us and be part of others, not to be limited or to do a thousand arguments in action. Sharing is the basis of multiplication. The woman initially did not trust the prophet's words, but then convinced herself to do as requested. The moment she finds the strength to share, because love is breaking with those who do not have, God's hand intervenes and the oil and flour multiply until they run out. In the difficulties of life, ours and those we are called to love and help, faith becomes more real, robust, with less frills. When we reach out to the needy we discover that the problems that plagued us disappear. Above all, we will discover God's action.
Weekly Bible reading plan
November 25, Ezekiel 24-26; 1 Peter 2
November 26, Ezekiel 27-29; 1 Peter 3
November 27, Ezekiel 30-32; 1 Peter 4
November 28, Ezekiel 33-34; 1 Peter 5
November 29 Ezekiel 35-36; 2 Peter 1
November 30, Ezekiel 37-39; 2 Peter 2
December 1, Ezekiel 40-41; 2 Peter 3
November 25 is International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The daily news imposes not only a reflection on it, but a re-elaboration of widespread thinking and a commitment to defend all women.
Photo by Asif Akbar, https://freeimages.com