Today’s readings share the theme of freely giving—sometimes with uncertainty of what will happen as a result of it, and sometimes in complete confidence that we will be taken care of as a result. The widow of Zarapheth took care of Elijah out of her own poverty—she and her son had only a tiny bit of food left and then they would not have any way of getting more—when Elijah appeared needing help. The law of hospitality at that time required that she should feed him and her heart said that she should, too. As a result, they were taken through their hard time and blessed with more food than they could have had if they didn’t share.
The second reading speaks of Jesus’ free giving of himself for our salvation—it was such a perfect gift that it only had to be given once to be effective.
Then, in the Gospel, Jesus makes an example of the woman who lived on a very fixed income offering all that she had—her security, her retirement, her everything—to God with no fanfare and no apparent trepidation. She appears perfectly free—not just in her giving—but in her trust that God will provide for her. There’s a certain economy in giving when it comes from a place of love—free for the one who is given to because there are no strings attached, and free for the giver because they attach no strings. It’s where true joy comes from because it is how we are most like God.