1 Kings 17:10-16
In those days, Elijah the prophet went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the town, a widow was there gathering sticks; he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, so that I may drink.” As she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” But she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jug; I am now gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go home and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.” Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterwards make something for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord the God of Israel: The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the Lord sends rain on the earth.” She went and did as Elijah said, so that she as well as he and her household ate for many days. The jar of meal was not emptied, neither did the jug of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.
The LORD keeps faith forever;
executes justice for the oppressed;
gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets the prisoners free;
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the strangers;
he upholds the orphan and the widow,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
The Lord will reign forever,
your God, O Zion,
for all generations.
For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, but he entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself again and again, as the high priest enters the Holy Place year after year with blood that is not his own; for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
As he taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”
He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”
Today’s readings are very comforting for widows. God watches over them. They have such dignity in is eyes that even those who are in greatest need are still called upon to serve. The widow in the Old Testament reading brought Elijah something to drink and was even prevailed upon to make him bread from the last of her provisions. The widow in the New Testament was donating the last of her money to the poor. Jesus did not give her back her money. He did not even shame the rich by asking them to donate to her for her need. He simply marveled at her faith. Nobody else got Jesus’ attention with their offerings; only the poor widow did.
We don’t know what happens next. Did the widow get help from the apostles right then and there? Did she go on her way fasting and hoping for her own needs to be met? Did food miraculously reproduce in her kitchen? All we know is that faith moving in charity is the more valuable thing in God’s eyes. The widow understood poverty and how many people were worse off than she was. The rich, who could afford to give much, had not the same love since they were never going to feel the pinch of sacrificing for the sake of others.
Today, try to make a sacrifice that causes you to die, a little, to yourself: bring someone a drink, make a donation, restrain your tongue, yield to another person. Just do anything that will meet another person’s need because you know it will make Jesus happy.