I am often struck by the headlines in the papers about the rich and famous and their extravagant lifestyles. There is a real appetite for this type of story, a public desire to know about their extravagances, a need to know about their flashy cars, homes, holidays, and nights out. What the rich are doing is spending some of their vast wealth, possibly not even registering the amount they’ve spent. So, what does this have to do with today’s readings you may ask?
What we hear in the readings today are two examples of real extravagance! Not from the rich and famous, but from two poor vulnerable widows. We never get stories like this in our papers. In biblical times, widows were people living in the margins of society, living on the edge. Unlike today, there was no welfare state to provide them with financial and medical support. Unless the widow was supported by her wider family, she and her children would have nothing. The women from today’s readings chose to give up what was in essence the key to their wellbeing. Jesus tells the disciples that from the little she has, the widow has put in everything she possessed, all she had to live on.
It makes me marvel how someone as poor as the widow in the Gospel was able to perform such an extravagant generous act of goodness, of giving. When God asks us to give up a little, or everything, can we do that? Will we be able to do what God is asking us? What will we reply…… what will we do?