Let’s take a short Bible quiz based on today’s readings.
1. “The fatherless and the _________ he sustains” (Psalm 146:9).
2. The woman who helped Elijah in today’s first reading is often called “the _________ of Zarepath” (Luke 4:26).
3. The woman who put two small coins into the Temple treasury in today’s Gospel was a _________ (Mark 12:42).
If you answered “widow” for all three, you’re right. From Ruth and Naomi to the old woman in today’s Gospel, widows play an important role in Scripture. Along with orphans, they are considered the most vulnerable of people. And it’s because of how humble, needy, and powerless they are that God has a special love for them. It’s also why he commands us to treat them in a special way.
The heroine in today’s Gospel had nothing to offer people. She had no money, no social status, no influence that would help anyone get ahead. She was probably too old to care for children or to do even menial housework.
Jesus himself seemed to have a special love for widows. He went out of his way to raise the son of a lonely widow from the dead (Luke 7:11-17). He told a story about a persistent widow to teach us how to pray (18:1-8). Jesus has commanded us also to have a special care for widows— along with widowers, orphans, the vulnerable, and the needy as well. Some of them are hanging on by a thread, and they need our help. What’s more, caring for God’s beloved poor also has the power to rescue us from selfishness, pride, and self-sufficiency.
It teaches us to serve as Jesus does. In the end, it just may be what will save us.