From the Pastor
Something that I find in common in today’s first reading and in the Gospel, is the story of two widows. Both are common, hard-working women. Both are poor. Both put their trust in God rather than in things. Both are rewarded for their faith. The first widow is a foreigner to the Hebrews. She is from Zarephath, a coastal city on the Mediterranean. Elijah traveled through this land during a famine. As in all famines, the rich complain, and the poor starve. The woman was poor. When Elijah met up with her, she was putting her last scraps together before she and her son would die. Imagine her as a starving woman with her child in Africa or Asia, eyes sunken with pain, belly extended. Imagine that desperation had given way to despair and a moribund acceptance of her fate and that of her son.
We have all seen pictures of starving women, holding a suffering child. The woman Elijah saw was one of these women. Now, imagine if a total stranger went up to this woman and asked her for food in the name of the Lord. “He’s unreasonable,” you and I would say. “He needs to take care of himself and leave her alone,” you and I would argue. But there was a law of hospitality in scripture that demanded that strangers and foreigners be cared for in their plight. Imagine how deep the woman’s faith would have been to trust in God and share the little she had. This is what the woman in the First Book of Kings did. God saw her faith, her generosity. She received enough to eat for a full year. The second widow was the one of the Gospel reading who put two small coins into the Temple treasury. Jesus said that her donation, although it seemed insignificant, was tremendous because she gave all that she had. Her donation was an act of putting complete faith in God to care for her.
The faith, insistence, and perseverance of blind Bartimaeus invite us to always trust in God, even if many times we feel that we can no longer go forward, we want to throw in the towel or What these widows did is extremely difficult for all of us. No matter how great our faith is, it is extremely difficult to put our total trust in God. How many times we have put our trust in our own resources, in our own efforts? We are all tempted to believe that we can solve all our problems without asking God for help, or even without believing that God can help us. We sometimes believe that the proper amount of cash can heal all life’s ills. We are convinced of what society and media tell us, that money can solve our problems, that we can buy happiness, and that we don’t want to share “happiness” with anybody else.
The message today is that we must place our confidence in God rather than in our material possessions. This demands to put into practice the virtue of humility. Only a humble person recognizes his or her need for God. The two widows gave from their substance. They put their trust in God shouting with their actions that His presence in their lives was infinitely more important than anything they owned, even more important than everything they owned. They give us the example of ideal Christians, humbly trusting in God to care for them.
Peace and good, Fr. Oscar Mendez, OFM.
Mission San Luis Rey Parish
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