Sunday, November 7th 2021 | By Rev. Michael P. Hanifin
This weekend’s First Reading from the First Book of Kings, as well as the Gospel passage from Saint Mark, give an account of the actions of two seemingly poor and helpless widows who show themselves to be faith-filled and generous regarding their limited resources. They are able to do so because of their trust in a God who cannot be out done in His generosity.
In the eyes of the world, particularly in biblical times when there was no life insurance or Social Security, these widows were vulnerable and dependent on the generosity of others to take care of their modest necessities. They each found themselves in desperate situations — amid a famine the widow of Zarephath had the responsibility of caring for a child as well as her needs, and the poor widow in the Gospel was clearly impoverished. Yet, each of them demonstrated strength and generosity that distinguished them from those around them with greater means. Where did their strength come from? It came from knowing who they were, and from whom did their resources originate. These women must have known their security would not come from a good life insurance policy or connections to someone with a hidden storehouse of flour.
No, their security and wellbeing came from knowing they were daughters of the Most High God and from putting their faith and trust in His providence. They had no need to panic in the midst of natural disaster or cling desperately to their menial resources. Their faith and trust in God freed them to trust in Him when all seemed hopeless. Their faith kept them detached from trusting too much in material possessions. Their faith allowed them to be brave and generous, “to throw caution to the wind,” to think of the needs of others despite their own trials and limitations.
These women saw themselves as stewards of another person’s property, not the owners, of the resources God had given them, regardless of how much or how little they had. And acting in this way gave them the confidence to be gracious, generous, and trusting even though they had limited or no reserves to fall back to.
The United States Catholic Conference of Bishops stated in their Pastoral Letter, Stewardship: A Disciples Response, “A Christian steward is one: who receives God’s gifts gratefully, cherishes and tends them in a responsible and accountable manner, shares them in justice and love with others and returns them with increase to the Lord.” I would dare say these two widows in this weekend’s scripture readings indeed exemplify this sentiment through their generous actions