“…the Lord upholds widows and orphans…”

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My mother and I had some difficult times when I was young – she was a widow, caring for her invalid father and trying to provide for my needs with very little income and no material resources. Nevertheless, we all managed, and had a happy life.

What made this possible? I think that it was because we had friends, similarly struggling, who were willing to share what they had with others. We also knew people who had money – and they were determined to keep it! Sometimes they’d make a show of donating goods or money for a charitable cause. Their gifts were appreciated, but those donations were admittedly from their spare money. Our best friends, however, often invited individuals who they knew were “down on their luck” into their homes for a nice dinner, even though they had little to share. Their children were instructed to see that others were fed first, then they had their turn, trusting that there would be enough. Of course, there always was enough food to go around. Nobody called it “living according to the Gospel,” but it looked like it to me.

I’ve seen this generosity in First Nations cultures as well. When I used to visit the People, I saw that the leaders had the fewest material possessions. That was because they gave away nearly everything they received. As People of God, we know that what we have is only loaned to us by the Creator. We have to hold it lightly – it isn’t ours to hoard when others are in need.

Scripturally, the Evening Prayer Reading for the Feast of the Holy Family says it well: “…how for your sake He made himself poor though He was rich, so that you might become rich by His poverty…” This was the Spirit of the widow in today’s Gospel, as I read it. We don’t know her name, or what became of her, but we can share her generosity, trusting that we will have enough.

Dorothy A. Hathway, CSJA