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Offer it All

First Reading: 1 Kings 17:10-16
In those days, Elijah the prophet went to Zarephath.
As he arrived at the entrance of the city,
a widow was gathering sticks there; he called out to her,
“Please bring me a small cupful of water to drink.”
She left to get it, and he called out after her,
“Please bring along a bit of bread.”
She answered, “As the LORD, your God, lives,
I have nothing baked; there is only a handful of flour in my jar
and a little oil in my jug.
Just now I was collecting a couple of sticks,
to go in and prepare something for myself and my son;
when we have eaten it, we shall die.”
Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid.
Go and do as you propose.
But first make me a little cake and bring it to me.
Then you can prepare something for yourself and your son.
For the LORD, the God of Israel, says,
‘The jar of flour shall not go empty,
nor the jug of oil run dry,
until the day when the LORD sends rain upon the earth.'”
She left and did as Elijah had said.
She was able to eat for a year, and he and her son as well;
the jar of flour did not go empty,
nor the jug of oil run dry,
as the LORD had foretold through Elijah.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 146:7, 8-9, 9-10
R. (1b) Praise the Lord, my soul!
The LORD keeps faith forever,
secures justice for the oppressed,
gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets captives free.
R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
The LORD gives sight to the blind.
The LORD raises up those who were bowed down;
the LORD loves the just.
The LORD protects strangers.
R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
The fatherless and the widow he sustains,
but the way of the wicked he thwarts.
The LORD shall reign forever;
your God, O Zion, through all generations. Alleluia.
R. Praise the Lord, my soul!

Second Reading: Hebrews 9:24-28
Christ did not enter into a sanctuary made by hands,
a copy of the true one, but heaven itself,
that he might now appear before God on our behalf.
Not that he might offer himself repeatedly,
as the high priest enters each year into the sanctuary
with blood that is not his own;
if that were so, he would have had to suffer repeatedly
from the foundation of the world.
But now once for all he has appeared at the end of the ages
to take away sin by his sacrifice.
Just as it is appointed that human beings die once,
and after this the judgment, so also Christ,
offered once to take away the sins of many,
will appear a second time, not to take away sin
but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.

Gospel: Mark 12:38-4
In the course of his teaching Jesus said to the crowds,
“Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes
and accept greetings in the marketplaces,
seats of honor in synagogues,
and places of honor at banquets.
They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext
recite lengthy prayers.
They will receive a very severe condemnation.”

He sat down opposite the treasury
and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury.
Many rich people put in large sums.
A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.
Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them,
“Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more
than all the other contributors to the treasury.
For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth,
but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had,
her whole livelihood.”

NAB

nov 8

The widow in the First Reading and the widow in the Gospel lived about 800 years apart and yet they shared a common bond. Both were entirely dependent upon the charity of others. Despite their poverty and their littleness (or maybe because of it), both stand as sparkling jewels in the story of God.

They are the women of gracious generosity.

The widows had next to nothing. The widow from Zaraphath would have been mindful of her own needs, but she was likely even more concerned with the needs of her son. There was a famine in the land. Food was scarce and she was a woman of no means.

In the Gospel, we know that the poor woman had but two small coins. Both widows acted boldly and generously in faith.

Independent of one another and separated by nearly a millennium, each woman gave from her poverty in an act of humble faith. They both knew that everything they had was from God. His protection and provision—even though appearing small by the standards of the world—were obviously abundant to the women. They recognized the plenty. And they gave it back to the Giver.

Further, they each gave quietly. They didn’t look for fanfare or applause. The widow from Zaraphath set a humble meal before Elijah from a place of hunger, not a banquet on a wide table from a seat of honor. She gave in faith in the quiet of her home, little and hidden, but mighty and heroic. The widow in the presence of Jesus knew her gift paled in comparison to large sums being given with great fanfare. Still, she went forward to offer the little she had.

And Jesus noticed.

He noticed. He knew. God saw the meager oil and bread offered to the stranger and He saw two small coins dropped into the treasury. And He blessed.

We know that the widow and her son had enough to eat until the famine left their land. The poor widow? Jesus called His disciples to learn from her example. He made clear to them how well pleased He was with her total self-giving. She held nothing back. She offered all for her God.

What do we offer today?

photo by Sara Miller

Elizabeth Foss is a wife, the mother of nine, and a grandmother. She finds the cacophony of big family imperfection to be the perfect place to learn to walk in the unforced rhythms of grace. You can learn more about her here

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