Saint Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr (Optional Memorial) (34th or Last Week in Ordinary Time)
This poor widow put in more than all the rest.
Why did this widow catch Jesus’ attention? Perhaps because he was well aware of the plight of widows. In first-century Palestine, a woman who had lost her husband and had no sons to support her could end up defenseless and destitute. Jesus probably suspected that this widow had little to give, so he commended her for offering “her whole livelihood” (Luke 21:4).
Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, God commands his people to take special care of widows, and Jesus took that command very seriously. When he entered the city of Nain, he saw a man being carried out on a funeral bier, “the only son of his mother, and she was a widow” (Luke 7:12). Taking pity on her, he raised the man and returned him to his mother. Later, he condemned those who took advantage of widows, just as the prophets had done (20:47; Isaiah 10:2).
On a more personal level, Jesus knew what it meant to care for a widowed mother: when Joseph died, Mary would have been left all alone but for his loving attention. Not only did his work as a carpenter support her, but he likely also cared for her spiritual needs. Can you imagine Jesus lighting the candles and reciting the prayers for their sabbath meal each week?
Although Jesus eventually left Nazareth to begin his public ministry, he must have ensured that Mary’s needs would be met. Even from the cross, he made provision for her, entrusting her to his disciple John (John 19:26-27). Clearly, widows held a special place in Jesus’ heart!
If you are a widow or widower, remember that Jesus looks on you with the same tenderness and respect he had for his own mother and for the woman in today’s Gospel (Luke 21:3). Even if you are feeling alone, afraid, or vulnerable, know that Jesus cares deeply for you and is by your side.
Today’s reading is also a good reminder of the sacred obligation we all have to care for those who are lonely and widowed. May we always show them the love and care that they both need and deserve.
“Jesus, bless all men and women who are widowed with a sign of your special love and care for them.”
Daniel 1:1-6, 8-20
(Psalm) Daniel 3:52-56
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