Mk 12: 38-44


Perhaps you notice almost immediately that the central character of the first (1 Kings 17) and third (Mk 12) readings today are widows. In the Bible, widows are among the anawin (the poor of the Lord), which also include orphans, strangers and the poor. These are not only economically poor, but also excluded and oppressed in society. That is why God sides with them and uses them to convey a powerful message to all.


The first widow (1 Kings) trusted God totally by surrendering to the prophet all the food she and her child had to live on. After offering food to God’s messenger, they were ready to die of hunger until one of the most beautiful prophecies was given her: your jar of flour will never be empty, your jug of oil will never run dry… What abundance! The promise came not because she was a widow but because the Lord saw that she was generous!


It was Jesus who noticed the second widow in the Gospel. While giving to the temple, she did not give more. Quantitatively, she gave the least, only two coins, while the rich dropped copious amounts of money to the collection plate. But the Lord Jesus saw the quality of her giving! She wasn’t an impressive example to the disciples because she was a widow, but because she was generous.


Do you know that the root of generosity is trust? A generous Christian trusts that in giving, he will not suffer lack, but will be richly blessed. And so he give more, gives happily, gives until it hurts. St. Paul says God cannot be outdone in generosity. Notice that selfish, stingy givers are the ones who feel most incomplete, lacking and insecure. You don’t have to be rich to give; you just have to be trusting… of God’s promise, his providence, his love.


There may be times we do not want to contribute to our church or to share with the needy because we are afraid we might not have enough left for ourselves. But when you overcame the selfish instinct and shared from your heart, did you not see blessings overflow in your life? God gives health, peace, unity, peace of mind, aside from material blessings!


My parents are among my models of generosity; in their simple lives they never forgot to support their church and to help the poor. A couple I will call Plesi and Cora never turn people down when they come for help. And they have one of the happiest married and family life I know.


When you struggle with generosity, do not look into your wallet. Look into your heart and ask yourself: Do I really trust God?

(photo by fr tam nguyen; thanks)