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Scripture reflection: The Lord upholds the widow and orphan

01 November 2018

Lectionary reading

First reading: 1 Kings 17:10-16.

Responsorial Psalm 145(146):7-10.

Second reading: Hebrews 9:24-28.

Gospel: Mark 12:38-44.

Link to readings.


Our readings this week encourage us to live our lives not just for ourselves but for others, as Jesus did.

The First Reading tells us of a poor destitute widow who shows great generosity as she sacrifices her last scrap of bread for the prophet Elijah.

The psalmist urges us to call on our innermost self – on ‘[our] soul’ – to give praise to the God who has great concern for the poor, including widows and orphans (Psalm).

In the Gospel too, it is the widow who wins the praise of Jesus as he observes her give everything she possesses to the treasury in the Temple. He contrasts her generosity to that of others and holds her up as a role model to the disciples.

The author of the letter to the Hebrews explains how Jesus Christ is the compassionate high priest who offers the gift of his own life for the salvation of mankind (Second Reading).

This week, let us pray for the grace to be the Lord’s instruments on earth, showing our care through loving action for the outcasts and marginalised of today.

 Psalm 145 (146)

R./ My soul give praise to the Lord.

It is the Lord who keeps faith for ever, who is just to those who are oppressed.

It is the Lord who gives bread to the hungry, the Lord, who sets prisoners free.

It is the Lord who gives sight to the blind, who raises up those who are bowed down.

It is the Lord who loves the just, the Lord, who protects the stranger.

He upholds the widow and orphan, but thwarts the path of the wicked. The Lord will reign for ever,

Zion’s God from age to age.

What is my mood as I come to pray today? What sort of day, of week, have I had?

I settle down, perhaps with my leaflet in my hand. Maybe I am in a private area; maybe I am surrounded by people, or on public transport. Wherever it is, I try to come to some quiet, shutting out distractions in the way which works best for me. This is time I want to spend with you, Lord.

After a few moments, I slowly read the verses of the psalm.

Perhaps I stop and repeat a particular line. What images come to mind?

I may want to focus on the oppressed, the hungry, the prisoners, the blind, the stranger, the orphan, the widow. Who are they?

Perhaps the name of someone I know, or a particular group of people enters my consciousness. I stay there awhile, and speak to the Lord about them.

I tell him how I feel, and ask him to continue helping them.

Maybe I belong to one of these groups myself?

I spend some time reflecting on my own hunger: for truth, for justice . . . ? . . . or on the things of my own making which keep me prisoner: my job; my addiction; my . . . ? . . . or on my own blindness: to the good things God has given me; to the love of those around me; to . . . ?

Once again, I turn to the Lord and tell him what is in my heart. I listen.

When the time comes to conclude my prayer, I may want to repeat, slowly, on my breath, in thanksgiving:‘It is the Lord who . . . ’ 

Gospel: Mark 12: 38–44

In his teaching Jesus said, ‘Beware of the scribes who like to walk about in long robes, to be greeted obsequiously in the market squares, to take the front seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets; these are the men who swallow the property of widows, while making a show of lengthy prayers.

The more severe will be the sentence they receive.’

Jesus sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the treasury, and many of the rich put in a great deal. A poor widow came and put in two small coins, the equivalent of a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, ‘I tell you solemnly, this poor widow has put more in than all who have contributed to the treasury; for they have all put in money they had over, but she from the little she had has put in everything she possessed, all she had to live on.’ 

I prepare to pray by giving myself the space to slow down. I note my thoughts and my mood.

I hand them over to the Lord and ask the Holy Spirit to help me. When ready, I read the Gospel slowly, a number of times.

I may want to focus on Jesus’s teaching about the behaviour of the scribes. I note how his teaching stirs me.

Does it attract or challenge me?

How does Jesus want his followers to live in the world . . . ?

How does he want me to live in the world today? I speak to Jesus openly about what comes to mind.

Perhaps I feel drawn to sit with Jesus as he watches people in the treasury.

I may want to ask him to help me notice what he notices . . . hear him teach the disciples about a new way of seeing the world . . .

What is his tone of voice; how does he look?

Perhaps I imagine him speaking directly to me, telling me about his way. I allow myself to rest awhile in his loving presence.

Whatever my response to the Gospel, I entrust my thoughts and feelings openly to the Lord.

I end my prayer slowly, giving thanks.

Glory be to the Father . . .

Prepared by St Beuno’s Outreach in the Diocese of Wrexham


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