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Monday, November 12, 2012


Vatican City, 11 November 2012 (VIS) - At midday, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his studio to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square. He commented on this Sunday's liturgy of the Word, which presents two widows as examples of faith: one in the First Book of Kings, the other in the Gospel of Mark.

"Both these women are very poor, and it is precisely in this condition that they demonstrate their great faith in God. The first widow appears in the cycle of narratives on the prophet Elijah. During a period of famine he receives an order from the Lord to go to Sidon, therefore outside Israel and in pagan territory. There he encounters a widow and asks her for some water to drink and a little bread. The woman answers that all she has is a handful of flour and a drop of oil, but since the prophet insists and promises her that, if she listens to him, she will no longer lack flour and oil, she grants his request and is rewarded. The second widow, from the Gospel, is noticed by Jesus in the temple of Jerusalem, in the treasury where the people offer contributions. Jesus sees that this woman throws two coins into the chest and then calls the disciples to Him, explaining that her offering is greater than that given by the rich as, while they gave what was superfluous to them, she gave all she had to live on".

These two biblical episodes offer us "valuable teaching on faith", said the Pope. "The faith is presented as the interior attitude of one who bases his or her own life on God, on the Word, and who confides fully in Him. To be a widow, in ancient times, constituted in itself a condition of grave need. Thus, in the Bible, widows and orphans are people of whom God takes particular care; although they have lost their means of subsistence on earth, God remains as their Spouse or their Father. However, the Scriptures state that the objective condition of need, in this case the fact of being a widow, is not enough: God always asks us to adhere willingly to faith, which is expressed as love for Him and for one's neighbour. No one is so poor that they are unable to give something. And indeed, both these widows show their faith in an act of charity: one towards the prophet and the other in giving alms. They therefore demonstrate the indivisible unity of faith and charity, which is like that between love for God and love for neighbour".

The Pope concluded by recalling the words of St. Leo the Great, "No act of kindness is meaningless before God, no mercy is fruitless".

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