In the old days a widow was a nobody. Once her husband died, she was left to the mercy of her relatives. If there was no brother, no son, no brother-in-law, she was as good as dead. A woman could not work—no such thing as applying for employment somewhere. Women were not educated, had no rights, and had no future without a man.
Both the first Book of Kings and the Gospel story of St. Mark parallel the plight of widows. And in both accounts the widows come out as winners because of their trust—their faith in God. Tuff to trust God when one is at the end of the rope—on the last penny—down to the last bit of food. Ever been there? Ever felt like there was no tomorrow? Many can relate to a time when they had plenty and then there was nothing. The depression, the stock market crash, loss of employment. However, although the economic level is important, emotional health can be just as critical. Some folks can be feeling good one day and then, without warning they feel depressed—and no one seems to understand. Depression is becoming more widespread. One of the reasons is because we don’t talk to each other. We text or email but rarely have a conversation. We are forgetting how to talk with each other. The worse thing that can happen is to think that whatever tragedy we are suffering—that we are all alone. Or that what we are experiencing has never happened to anyone else. Or that others will think less of us if we share. “So you’re broke, so you feel depressed, You discovered that your spouse has been unfaithful.” Whatever the problem is, we are never alone. And we are never tested beyond our capacity.
There is always a light at the end of the tunnel. But we’ve got to walk into the tunnel, not be afraid, have the confidence that God is holding us by the hand. Life can get pretty spooky. Never understood why some folks like to watch spooky movies, when life is spooky enough. Seems like the more blood and guts, the violence, the explosions are what sell movies. Guess that the folks in war-torn countries would not be anxious to see such trash—because they see it every day. Perhaps there is some sub-conscious satisfaction in seeing someone worse off then our self. The old axiom “Misery loves company” might not be far from the truth.
Not that we would ever get pleasure of seeing someone else’s suffering, but we can become indifferent. Since we are exposed to so much real-life situations, we tend to develop a callus. Jesus had to point out the widow in the Gospel who had gone unnoticed by the disciples. “Seen one widow, you’ve seen them all.” “Just another poor person.” “One of the countless who’s asking for money.” The majority of poor people came to the synagogue to ask for money, not to make an offering. Although it is commonly known that some of the most generous are some of the poorest, as in the case of the widow. She gave all that she had. Obviously the amount was not what was important. $100.00 in Las Vegas is just for starters. But $100.00 in Church takes on a different meaning. For someone who has nothing $100.00 is a lot of money no matter where they are. Time to take a look at ourselves and our own trust level of God’s mercy. We can never out-do God in generosity. The sacrifice, if our giving is indeed sacrificial, will come back many times over. The percentage is not important—our attitude is what God sees.
What we do on the weekend at Holy Mass should only be a part of our overall giving of stewardship. Time, talent, and treasure represents the big picture. God wants us completely. After all, He is the One who has provided all that we are, all that we have.