(Part 17)


November 8, 2015

Today’s readings:

1 Kings 17:10-16

Psalm 146:7-10

Mark 12:38-44

God loves the poor. God has a preferential option for the poor. He is a God who “secures justice for the oppressed, who gives bread to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free; the Lord gives sight to the blind. The Lord raises up those who are bowed down; the Lord protects the resident alien, comes to the aid of the orphan and the widow” (Ps 146:7-8b,9a). One reason God loves the poor is their generosity. Generosity? Yes! Consider two poor widows.

At one time, Jesus “sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury.” (Mk 12:41a). The rich put in large sums and a poor widow a few cents (Mk 12:41b-42). Who put in more? Obviously the rich, right? Wrong. This was Jesus’ judgment: “this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury.” (Mk 12:43). Now what kind of math is that? It is divine math. It is wisdom that does not make sense to the world. To Jesus, it was a matter not of absolute amount but of proportionate amount. The rich had “all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty” (Mk 12:44a). While giving large amounts, the rich were in effect giving a pittance, while the poor widow “contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.” (Mk 12:44b).

The other widow was at Zarephath. Like the first widow, she had almost nothing, but her spirituality was not as deep as the first widow. She had been commanded by God to feed the prophet Elijah (1 Kgs 17:9), but instead intended to bake a crust of bread from her very meager resource, to eat it with her son and then to die (1 Kgs 17:12). Elijah told her to obey God and not to be afraid (1 Kgs 17:13a), as he prophesied that God would provide (1 Kgs 17:14). “She left and did as Elijah had said. She had enough to eat for a long time—he and she and her household.” (1 Kgs 17:15).

How many of us, having much more than the poor widow, give a pittance for God’s work? How many of us believe that as we give our tithes and contributions, God will open the floodgates of heaven for us, and pour down blessing without measure? How many of us fully trust in God, who takes care of the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, to take care of our needs? How many of us, told by the Lord to tithe, decide that we do not have enough and so use our meager resource just for ourselves? How many of us provide for ourselves rather than allowing God to provide for us?

Those who care for God’s work while humbly trusting that He will care for us are those who are righteous, and “the Lord loves the righteous.” (Ps 146:8c). On the other hand, those who are high and mighty, who like position, recognition and honor (Mk 12:38-39), but oppress the poor while making a show of spirituality (Mk 12:40a), even as they make huge contributions to the Church, are those who “will receive a very severe condemnation” (Mk 12:40b), for God “thwarts the way of the wicked.” (Ps 146:9b).

Where do you stand?

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