Most often in our Sunday readings from the Lectionary, there is a common thread or link between the first reading the Gospel. On occasion, that link or theme extends through the second reading and binds them together. This Sunday is one of those times when the thread runs through all three readings; and that thread is trust in God or the virtue of faith in God’s Providence, that God will take care of everything. This is particularly important for us as Catholics to remember during this month of November as we continue to remember those who have gone before us in faith, and who now, we trust and hope, are in the presence of God.
In the first reading from the first book of Kings, we are presented with an image of the prophet Elijah asking a poor widow for food; she relates how she has so little, only a handful of meal and a little oil, enough for a final meal (or a last supper) for herself and her son, and that after they eat it, they will die; she’s telling Elijah that this is all she and her son have; that once it’s gone, she expects they will starve to death. But Elijah, speaking with the authority given him by God tells her ‘Do not be afraid’….and after telling her to provide him with some of her last resources for a meal ,he tells her ‘thus says the Lord, the God of Israel’ that the jar of meal and the jug of oil will not be emptied. So placing her trust in God, she does as Elijah asks, surrendering her last bits of food at the service of a prophet; and what does God do in return? Scripture tells us the jar of meal was not emptied, neither did the jar of oil fail for many days….This widow trusted that if she gave all to God, that God would take care of her as she needed.
It is somewhat easy to see a connection between this passage and our Gospel reading: a poor widow giving all that she has to live on…in this scene from St. Mark’s Gospel we hear Jesus pointing out to his disciples a widow putting in two small coins –leptons which were worth less than a penny each- in the Temple treasury; in essence giving her last resources to live on, over to God; he contrasts this with rich people putting in great sums and says that her contribution is ‘more than all those who are contributing to the treasury’…because they are giving from their abundance, leaving themselves with a great deal left over. This widow, on the other hand, is giving over all she has to live on – she is completely detached from this property, giving it over to God in trust – in faith ; trusting that God will provide for her what she needs just as the widow in the first reading; Notice Jesus doesn’t condemn those who have much – he simply says that those who give all they have- that those who are detached from wealth –from things – give the greater contribution because they are not holding anything back from God; that nothing is more important than God or entering into relationship with God.
It is this trust and detachment that is really the ideal approach for all Christians, as we express our relationship with God. The entire purpose of our lives is to be reunited with God, and it is in the life we live and how we practice our faith in our daily lives that we express our own trust in God’s providence; St. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Hebrews, in today’s second reading when he writes that Christ has entered into heaven itself, once and for all , and appears ‘in the presence of God on our behalf.” This is the ideal of trust that the Church teaches and that we all continue to strive for. It’s not something that we automatically have or receive; it’s a trust that we enter into , little by little, fed by the grace of God
There’s a beautiful little prayer said by the deacon, or the priest during the Mass when the wine and water are mixed before the Eucharistic preface: it’s said quietly so only those at the sanctuary really hear it; but it bears being heard by all in this context; ” By the mystery of this water and wine, may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled Himself to share in our humanity.”
Just as the widow’s gave up all they had in trust in God, so God, entering into our humanity as Jesus, gives up everything – His very life – to show us by example the result of complete trust in God; living in the presence of God for all eternity; entering into His divinity.
Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!