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Commentary

1 Kings 17:8-16
Through God’s miraculous intervention, the widow is able to feed Elijah and her
son

1 Kings 17:8

1 Kings 17:9 went to Zarephath – The town (Σάρεπτα Sarepta) is on the Mediter-
ranean Coast between Sidon and Tyre.
for I have commanded a widow there to feed you – In an ironic turn around,
God asks a widow to support the man of God rather than having the prophet
help the widow.

1 Kings 17:10 a widow was there gathering sticks – No one, not even her son, is
helping her.
he called to her – Speaking to a woman that is not related to you is not
normal.

1 Kings 17:11 she was going to bring it – Without question, she does what the
man commands.
he called to her and said – Now the prophet increases what is required of
the woman.

1 Kings 17:12 As the L ORD your God lives – Somehow she knows the faith
tradition of Elijah.
I have nothing baked – She has not made her daily bread.
we may eat it, and die. – Was this only to be starvation?

1 Kings 17:13 Do not be afraid – What a strange order. Death is at her door. Her
future is closed.
first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me – The requirement is that
she feed the stranger before her own family. How does this not break God’s
own law to take care of the widow, the orphan, and the immigrant?

1
1 Kings 17:14 For thus says the L ORD the God of Israel – Only now does she
learn the reward of doing the L ORD’s Word. That is the only way this action
required of her stays with the L ORD’s law.
until the day that the L ORD sends rain on the earth – The miracle will
continue until the land can support her.

1 Kings 17:15 She went and did as Elijah said – She trusted the Word of the
L ORD.

1 Kings 17:16

Psalm 146
The unspoken question in this psalm is “Who do we trust?” Do we place our lives
in the hands of people who cannot even control when they are born or when they
die? Or should we risk our future with the One who is outside of space and time?
The Jew/Christian answers that we place our loyalty in God.

Psalm 146:1 Praise the L ORD – The psalmists argues that the L ORD is the one
who needs to be remembered.

Psalm 146:2 I will sing praises to my God all my life long – This is one of the
methods used to tell others what the author feels about the L ORD.

Psalm 146:3 Do not put your trust in princes – In contrast with other humans,
the L ORD always keeps His promises.

Psalm 146:4 When their breath departs, they return to the earth – Every one of
our promises are limited by the life we lead. Sooner or later, we will break
them and then our death makes all of our words null and void.

Psalm 146:5 Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob – Blessings are
given to those who follow this God.

Psalm 146:6 who made – By recounting the L ORD’s deeds, the author reminds
his audience of the L ORD’s power.

Psalm 146:7 who executes justice for the oppressed – Righteousness includes
uploading the law and keeping morals.

2
Psalm 146:8 The L ORD sets the prisoners free – Some people are placed in chains
by others. The need to be freed. Everyone dies. They also must be brought
from their captivity.

Psalm 146:9 The L ORD watches over the strangers – The people that most of us
ignore are seen by the L ORD.
the way of the wicked he brings to ruin – The question of justice runs
through this psalm. If the L ORD is to bring good things then those who
cause pain to others must also be held accountable for their actions.

Psalm 146:10 The L ORD will reign for ever – Unlike other rulers, this One will
last forever.

Hebrews 9:24-28
The writer of Hebrews draws a Platonic parallel between Jesus and our sins.
Christ’s blood (the blood of One) has forgiven the sins of the many. Jesus will
come again, not to offer another sacrifice, but instead to “save those who are ea-
gerly waiting for him.” Two questions remain, “When will Christ come?” and
“Will there be any Christians?”

Hebrews 9:24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands –
Christ’s true destination is not anyplace constructed by humans.
entered into heaven itself – The author of Hebrews tells us that Heaven is
the proper home of Jesus.
to appear in the presence of God on our behalf – The reason to return to
Heaven is that Jesus argues for believers on their behalf. In other words, He
has been approved to be a lawyer in the supreme court.

Hebrews 9:25 Nor was it to offer himself again – The action by Christ is all that
is needed.

Hebrews 9:26 he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by
the sacrifice of himself – At the proper time, Jesus removed the transgres-
sion.

Hebrews 9:27 mortals to die once – This argument from natural law boosts the
position that Jesus only dies one time.

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Hebrews 9:28 will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those
who are eagerly waiting for him – Believers are waiting for Jesus to come.

Mark 12:38-44
Mark 12:38 Beware of the scribes – The scribes had the education and the con-
tacts to make them important members of society.1 In Mark, the scribes are
the ones who have opposed Jesus and they will be the ones who plot His
death.
who like to walk around – The concern is that the scribes are making public
displays of themselves.2

Mark 12:39 have the best seats – They attract attention to themselves.

Mark 12:40 devour widows’ houses – The public spectacle serves as a form of
advertising. These people are given/take control of a widow’s economy and
through fees and commissions “eat up” the estate.3
say long prayers – Contrast this with Jesus’ teaching on prayers in Matthew
6:5-15.
will receive the greater condemnation – Since the scribes are praying for
advertisement, they will receive nothing.

Mark 12:41 down opposite the treasury – The temple also functioned as a bank.4
Scholars cannot decide if γαζοφυλάκιον indicates a single collection box or
multiple boxes.5 The design of the boxes often accentuated the sound of the
coins dropping.6
large sums – In the ancient world, power was based on patronage. If you
could afford large sums of money in the temple, then it was obvious that
you also were worthy of being praised.
1
John R. Donahue, S.J. and Daniel J. Harrington, S.J.; Idem, editor, The Gospel of Mark,
Volume 2, Sacra Pagina, (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2002), p. 362.
2
Ibid.
3
Ibid., p. 363.
4
Ibid.
5
Ibid.
6
Ibid.

4
Mark 12:42 A poor widow – This person has no property rights at all and it is up
to the community to support her.
worth a penny The use of Latin words in this verse have caused many pro-
posals that this Gospel was written in Rome.7

Mark 12:43 Truly I tell you – How did Jesus know how much money the widow
gave to the treasury?8

Mark 12:44 she out of her poverty – Many commentators have praised the woman,
while others have condemned the treasury system.9 Give the text that pre-
cedes this lesson (Mark 12:33) about God wanting love and not sacrifices it
would seem that Jesus is condemning the current institutions that eat up the
widows: scribes and religion.
If in any other context, we would have seen anyone, including the “church”
asking for all that a person possessions, wouldn’t we be upset?10 Then why
do we assume that Jesus blatantly blesses this act?
It appears to me that the story is about how the Temple and the evil scribes
manipulate a poor widow. The temple and the scribes are exploiting the poor
and the widow. As of 1982, very little research has been provided on this
text and what has been done almost exclusively focuses on the coins.11
Everyone should find this story disgusting and anyone who promotes this
type of activity morally reprehensible.12

References
Donahue, S.J., John R. and Harrington, S.J., Daniel J.; Idem, editor, The Gospel
of Mark, Volume 2, Sacra Pagina, (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press,
2002).
7
Donahue and Harrington, Mark, p. 364.
8
Ibid.
9
Ibid., pp. 364, 365.
10
Addison G. Wright, S.S., ‘The Widow’s Mite: Praise or Lament? – A Matter of Context’, The
Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 44 (1982).
11
Ibid.
12
Ibid.

5
Wright, S.S., Addison G., ‘The Widow’s Mite: Praise or Lament? – A Matter
of Context’, The Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 44 (1982), The article in its
entirety is reprented with the author’s and the publisher’s permission at
http://www.visionsofgiving.org/widowsmite.htm.