Thirty-second Sunday: Trusting in God
In the first reading today and in the Gospel reading we meet two widows who are very similar. Both are common, hard working women. Both are poor. Both put their trust in God rather than in things. Both are rewarded for their faith.
The first widow is a foreigner to the Hebrews. She is from Zarephath, a coastal city on the Mediterranean, northwest of the Kingdom of Israel. Elijah traveled through this land during a famine. As in all famines, the rich complain and the poor starve. The woman was poor. When Elijah met up with her, she was putting her last scraps together before she and her son would die. Imagine her as a starving woman in Somalia or Rwanda with her son. Imagine a stranger going up to this woman and asking for food in the name of the Lord. And imagine this woman putting her faith in God and feeding the prophet. Putting her total trust in God, she received enough to eat for a full year.
The second widow was the one of the Gospel reading who put two small coins into the Temple treasury. Jesus said that her donation, although it seemed insignificant, was tremendous because she gave all that she had. Her donation was an act of putting her faith in God to care for her.
What these two widows did is extremely difficult for all of us. I know that there are many of you who have far greater faith than I have, but I include even you in this statement when I say that no matter how great our faith is, it is profoundly difficult to put our total trust in God. There is something within us all that looks for solutions to our problems outside of the realm of faith. Perhaps as rugged individualists we think that we can solve our own problems, conquer all obstacles ourselves. Certainly, we are all tempted to believe that the proper amount of cash applied in the right places can heal all ills.
I know you will agree that the great fallacy of our age is that money can solve our problems. It is the job of advertisers to convince us that we can buy happiness. The fact is that among those who have been blessed with material
success the happiest are those who have no qualms about sharing their wealth.
The radical message of today's readings is that we must place our confidence in God rather than in our material possessions. This is difficult for us to do because it demands our practicing the forgotten virtue of humility. Humility? Yes, humility. Only a humble person recognizes where he or she stands before God. Only a humble person recognizes his or her profound need for God. Only a humble person is certain that the presence of God in his or her life is fundamental to happiness.
The two widows gave from their substance. They put their trust in God shouting with their actions that his presence in their lives was infinitely more important than anything they owned, even more important than everything they owned. They give us the example of ideal Christians, humbly trusting in God to care for them.
Perhaps, some day, you and I will have the profound faith to trust in God as these two widows trusted in God. But, then again, that is one of the reasons why we go to Church, isn't it? We worship God to pray for faith.