32nd Sunday of the Year 2018 (b)
Jesus watches a poor widow give all she has into the Treasury. I suspect that we admire what she did but wouldn’t do the same. We might have given something but not everything we had to live on. Have you walked down Kensington High Street lately. If you do you have the run the gauntlet of beggars and people raising funds for good causes. It’s a relief when you get through unscaved. I can get away with not signing up to Amnesty International, or Oxfam or Save the Whale because I don’t have a bank account. It’s true, having a vow of poverty means we don’t have our own account The beggars are a different matter.
You can adopt two opposing attitudes to beggars: one, is not to give them anything, justified by the fact that they should get a job, or, more sympathetically, you can give them a little money. But its not like the widow in the gospel who gives the little she had to live on. Most of us wouldn’t go that far, would we. If we gave away all we had to live on what would we live on?
Notice in both the first reading and the gospel the central character is a widow. Now a widow is extremely vulnerable; her husband, who earned the money, has died, so she has no source of income. The first widow gives the prophet Elijah all the food she had left, which was meant for herself and her son. However, he promises her that the food would not run out and it doesn’t. In the gospel the widow gives into the treasury two small coins. It was a heroic act of generosity and trust. Generous, because it was all she had to live on; and trust, because she put her trust in God that He would look after her. We don’t know what happens next; whether Christ sees her later and helps her buy some food. All we are told is that he watched her put money into the Treasury.
I think the message isn’t to do likewise; though I’m sure the Treasury would be very grateful. But rather to learn to trust in God, and trust him for everything. In the knowledge that He is looking after you, though sometimes it can be hard to believe.
I say that because we remember this weekend the first centenary of the end of the First World War. How many of those men and some women went off trusting in God; praying to Him to keep them safe. How many mothers and fathers did the same. And yet, millions were killed during that horrible time. Why didn’t God listen to their prayers? Was their trust in Him a waste of time. Surely not. Life is mysterious and unpredicable. To trust in God doesn’t mean tht life is going to turn out the way we want. Those soldiers and their families who prayed didn’t know what was going to happen, but they prayed and they trusted in God. He didn’t let them down. It was mankind that let them down. God didn’t want war. On the contrary, He wants peace.
God asks us to trust Him. And to do so no matter what the cost. To trust in God is to put our faith in Him. It is to believe that He is looking after us. Inspite of all that can happen, He is there at our side, supporting and encouraging us to go on. He wants us to be generous, to give and not count the cost. Those two widows are praised by Christ not just for their generosity but also for their trust. They gave their all, trusting that God was always with them to look after them. They knew that He was their Lord and Master.
Trust is a great virtue. It’s a wonderful thing to trust in another. Knowing that he or she will never let you down. However, being human, we sometimes do let people down; in spite of our best intentions. But with God it’s different: He will never let us down. If we trust in Him there is not limit to what we can achieve. He can and wants to do great things in us, but first we need to learn to let go, to put our hands in His, and let Him guide us. If you trust in the Lord He will never let you down.