For God will not be outdone in generosity!


 

Our readings today highlight God’s generosity to those who give to God “until it hurts!”  God, in turn, is even more generous than they are.

We will take examples of the two poor widows we read about today. In the first reading, from the first Book of Kings, Elijah, who is on the run from the wicked King Ahab, finds a widow who is picking up sticks for her last meal for her and her son. Elijah is hungry, and asks the woman to please make him a little cake. He soon finds out that the woman has nothing in the house except a small bit of flour and oil. It’s going to be the last meal for herself and her son before they die! Nevertheless, out of this little bit, she feeds Elijah first. He tells her that, as a reward, her oil and flour will last until the rains come again (which turns out to be a whole year!). God will not be outdone in generosity!
Mark’s Gospel also narrates about another widow. It is a really moving story about Jesus in the Temple, observing those who are putting in collection money. He’s really impressed with a poor widow who puts in two copper coins, all she has to live on. In her humility, she probably hoped that no one would see this, since there were many rich people around her putting in large sums. Far be it from Jesus to discourage the wealthy from making big donations! He’s merely pointing out how more admirable is sacrificial giving than just giving from what one has left over!

“This poor widow has put in more than all.”

Jesus shows that God is not really interested in the size of the gift (nor, even, how much good might be accomplished by it). What concerns God is the intention of the giver. The poor widow gave a great gift because she kept nothing back for herself, whereas the wealthy gave large sums from their abundance and so, in effect, gave very little.

Jesus had a soft spot in His heart for widows. They were the most vulnerable people in the society of His time, for there was no “social security” of any kind, and no husband to protect and provide for them. He has just finished a scorching condemnation of the religious authorities for their insensitivity to the plight of these widows. Instead of helping them, they were taking away what little they had through unbearable temple taxes.

God approves of sacrificial giving. How good are we at this kind of generosity? This includes adjusting our schedules to help some person or cause in need of our time and talent

Can we ever forget the image of the poor widow putting into the treasury all that she had? Even in her poverty she did not neglect to make a sacrifice of thanksgiving to God for blessings received. And we can surmise that this widow would know the Lord’s tender mercies, for God will not be outdone in generosity.

The generosity of this poor widow is both an inspiration and a challenge to us as we strive to be good stewards of the blessings we have received from the Lord. As the Lord has been good to us, so too must we be good to others, sharing generously and lovingly with our family, our Church, and the poor.

Our model for generosity of course, is the Lord Jesus. He became poor so that we might become infinitely wealthy. Our Lord gave everything He had to give by stretching out His arms upon the cross so that we might know the joys of heaven. May our care and generosity be nothing less than wholehearted, following the example of our Lord and the example of the poor widows in our readings today.

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