The Widow Who is an Image of God

32nd Sunday – Ordinary Time – B

By Fr. Aldo, SX

The second part of today’s Gospel presents the example of authentic religiosity: a widow, whose heart is free in relation to material goods, gives all that she has.

This episode becomes all the more intriguing if we keep in mind the fact that this widow had not known Jesus, did not listen to his teachings, did not answer to a call and did not become a follower, as did “the Twelve” and many other men and women who stayed with Jesus throughout the three years of his public life. She represents those who, even today, without having read a single page of the Gospel, lead and evangelical life. And the purpose of the narrative is to show to the disciples a model to be appreciated and imitated.

We draw three lessons:

The first is the most simple and obvious and is about humility. The widow deserved the compliments of Jesus because she did such gesture discretely, without catching the attention of anyone, without showoff. But this is not the central point of the message.

Four Sundays ago we heard the story of the rich young man who had been faithful to all the commandments, but did not become follower of Jesus, because he had no courage to detach himself from his material possessions. This widow, on the contrary, donates all that she has: precisely, two copper coins. She could have kept them for herself, but she does not. In this way she fulfills the requirement to be disciple: to renounce everything. The good Christian is not the rich person who, possessing a lot of goods, can afford making generous donations out of his or her surplus. But real Christian is the one who, whether poor or rich, makes available all that he or she has to his or her brothers and sisters. In this way even the poor are invited to share, because no one is so poor to the point of having nothing to offer. And it is also true that someone could question: if I make my house, my money, my car, etc., available to others, wouldn’t I be encouraging laziness, conformism and parasitism? Definitely this is not the generosity that Christ proposes. Everyone should make an effort so to acquire self-sufficiency, working with dignity in order to support his or her family, but this must be done in such a way that the person feels responsible also for others, who are not family members.

And the third lesson is the most important one: the widow who offers everything is an image of God, an image of Jesus Christ who “being rich, made himself poor” (2Cor 8:9). Due to erroneous teaching of catechesis perhaps many people could develop a distorted image of God, imagining God as a strict boss who demands that everything be given back to him because in really everything belongs to him. But the truth can be seen in the Calvary, the place per excellence where God reveals his face. There God shows who he really is: he does not demand anything from anyone, but gives himself totally for us. He not even wants to see us kneeling before him, but before our brothers and sisters so to wash their feet; he not even wants us to give our lives to him, but together with him, give them for others.

The widow of this Gospel passage is an image of God and Christ because she deprived herself of all that she had and gave it to others.

Leave a Reply