The word ‘martyr’ comes from the Latin for ‘witness’. For a Christian, the witness points to Christ and the total gift of himself on Calvary for the salvation of the world. As we have it in the Last Supper: “This is my Body which will be given up for you.” “This is the Chalice of my Blood, the Blood of the new and eternal covenant which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
If Jesus totally gave himself for us on Calvary for our redemption, then our lives too should be a total gift of ourselves to him in humble praise and thanksgiving. This is the reason why the widow in today’s gospel is acclaimed: she gave all she had – a penny – to God. The others who were better off only gave a contribution to God but stopped short of a total gift of self.
The encounter between Elijah and the widow in the first reading teaches us that when we give everything to God as she did, God will never be outdone in generosity in returning the gift.
Maybe this week we can seek ways to be more generous in our giving to God and others like these two widows in today’s liturgy.