How much does God ask of you to give? The answer is simple: everything; your entire self.
Today's story of the widow of Zarephath shows us the beauty of Jewish spirituality, which is so fully human: it is tragic and honest, it is comical, it is deeply spiritual at the same time. First, it's a human tragedy – a woman without anyone to provide for her and apparently without any help from her wider community is starving to death with her son. Yet, there is also a sort of comedy here, if the story itself wasn't such a terrible thing. Because into this scene comes the prophet who has caused the drought in the first place, and he asks for water and some piece of bread. Yet after he hears she is awaiting death, he only ups the ante: “Before you do that, please go make me a small cake!”
But this is more than just that, because the story is not about entertainment, it is a lesson about the ways of God. And this third level of the story is the most important: on a deeply spiritual level, God is teaching us something here. The Lord God meets these characters in a seemingly ordinary exchange. He tests this woman's faithfulness and her trust, and he rewards her for her generous response to His invitation. She doesn't starve; rather, she survives on the same oil and flour for a year.
So here we see the theme that I started with. How much does God ask you to give? Everything; your entire self.
The same thing is present in the Gospel today. God invites us to give and give until we feel like we cannot give any more, and then, to give whatever is still left. The widow today places her two small coins, her entire livelihood, all that she had, in the temple treasury. This is a symbolic act of giving everything over to God. And only when we give everything over to God does our faith truly manifest itself. When, in the end, we have nothing left to trust in, not our government or our job or our individual gifts and talents, but only God alone, then we can show our faith. Then, even the smallest actions like making a cake or giving 50 cents away, really are transformed into something beautiful and become a powerful act of faith in God. Therese of Lisieux affirms the important of these small acts of giving in her Little Way to Heaven, which simply says, by doing small things with great love, we are giving everything to God because we are placing ourselves in the gift, just like the two widows put themselves in their gifts today.
Why does God ask us to give, and give, and give? We give everything because God gives everything. (CCC) In the Cross, in this Eucharist which makes that Cross present to us, we see God give. Let us ask our Lord to help us give Him all, to put ourselves in our giving by the love we place in it, especially when it is difficult!
CCC 2011 – The charity of Christ is the source in us of all our merits before God. Grace, by uniting us to Christ in active love, ensure the supernatural quality of our acts and consequently their merits before God and before men.