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1 Kgs 17:10-16
Mk 12:38-44 or 12:41-44
Today’s readings bring us a “tale of two widows,” both of whom gave when they had every human reason not to. The widow in the first reading prepared something for Elijah although she didn’t have enough for herself and her son. The widow in the Gospel passage gave all her savings.
The Lord’s prophet reassured the first widow; the Lord himself praised the second.
We, the Church, are not widowed. The Bridegroom is with us, and it is from him that we draw the courage to be generous – not just with food and money, but with our witness to the Gospel, and with our taking of risks for building a world of justice and a culture of life. Some feel that they have enough “business to mind” with their own lives, and therefore don’t want to get involved in the lives of others who, for example, are facing the temptation to abort a child. “I have enough problems of my own” is the common temptation. It seems that we barely have enough energy and attention to give our own problems, let alone those of others.
Yet this is precisely where the lesson of the widow’s mite comes in. It applies more to this than to how much money we give away. The human heart expands when it touches God, and it expands to take in the needs, the “business,” of every vulnerable human being. We no longer measure our giving by how much we have; we measure it by how much the other needs. Then, like the miracle that surprised the widow whom Elijah visited, we find our capacity for love and concern is greater than we imagined.
We also carefully measure our risk, and are tempted to say that we’ve quickly reached the limit of how much we are willing to risk. But the demands of justice, and of the protection of life, require that we measure our risk not against how many other things we may lose, but against what the victim of injustice stands to lose. In fighting for the unborn, we are defending those who are losing their very lives – and therefore all the goods and rights they might possess in life. What we risk losing for defending them is little to nothing in comparison. The lesson of the widow’s mite applies again. Indeed, the tale of the two widows is simply a reflection of the fundamental teaching, “Greater love than this no one has, than to lay down his life for his friends.”