Humility and Charity
Today’s first reading recalls Elijah‘s encounter with a poor widow. Despite her desperate poverty, she agrees to share the little she has with a prophet. Elijah tells her not to be afraid, promising her jar of flour will not go empty and her oil jug will not run dry. The Lord tells us to keep the faith forever, secures justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets captives free.
In the second reading today, the writer of Hebrews continues his teaching to the Jewish converts and to us about the eternal priesthood of Christ as the completion of the priesthood originating with Moses and Aaron. In the sacrifice of his life, Christ has won salvation for those who have died; he will return at the end of time to gather the surviving faithful for God’s dwelling place.
The controversial tone we find in today’s Gospel, reflects the situation of the primitive Christian community already separated from official Judaism. Jesus wants to warn his followers concerning some religious attitudes. Some believers relentlessly seek the esteem of others. The esteem of others as the scribes do. They thought they knew the Sacred Scripture very well but, exhibited no proof of the power of the word of God to change them. Additionally, in the celebrations of their religious ceremonies, where the soul finds itself totally naked before God, we find customs which contradict the true attitudes of humility and love in the presence of God.
To desire the esteem of others in and of our self is not a sin, neither is it bad or unhealthy. On the contrary, it is normal. But if our actions are based on the impulse alone, we are, so to speak, throwing away our lives. A simple gesture that is moved by humility and love an attitude which pleases God. The attitude of the widow in the Gospel, which reflects a love and trust in God in all of the challenges that came her way.
The majority would advise the widow to keep her few coins to herself. When others suffer hardships and lack the basics for a decent life, we are all obligated to go to their aid, especially if there is a lack of food, housing, clothing, simple justice, and yet, at times, we may try to avoid even knowing about these stories, because being aware would just ruin our personal peace of mind.
Few of us believers trust God totally and implicitly as does the widow in the Gospel. It is for that very reason that Jesus praises that poor widow seemingly with pure Joy, without a husband, nor a brother, and no children to defend her.
God alone, in her heart, is able to come to her rescue, only He is her redeemer. God is never impressed by the size of our offering but by the generosity of our heart when it comes to the needs of the poorest. And God looks with greater love for those who offer their help, time and treasure when it is offered with humility and charity without any expectation of a reward.