Bl. Miguel Pro, SJ
During the 1920s there was a conflict in Mexico known as the Cristero War. The Mexican government sought to put severe legal restrictions on the Catholic Church, the enforcement of which eventually took a violent turn, with priests being executed outside their own parishes. An armed resistance rose up among lay Catholics, called “Cristeros” for their battle cry of “Viva Cristo Rey!” Toward the end of this conflict a Jesuit priest named Miguel Pro was arrested after having spent several years eluding the federal police, donning various disguises in order to secretly say Mass and serve the Catholics of Mexico City. He was later falsely accused of an assassination attempt, arrested, and executed without trial. His last words, as he stood with his arms straight out, rosary in hand? “¡Viva Cristo Rey!”
Today’s Gospel gives us another example of someone giving it all for God. The widow gives her last two coins, probably the money she was saving for her burial. She embodies the meaning of Fulton Sheen’s words, “Never measure your generosity by what you give, but rather by what you have left.” Jesus is moved by her generosity and holds her up as an example of faith, for now she has nothing left for her providence but God. This is not to say that we should empty our bank accounts and wait for God to make the next move. Rather, it is a challenging invitation to trust all the more in God, to live in a way that reflects our belief in the Kingdom that is at hand, the King that is, truly, in charge of all things. Miguel Pro and the widow in today’s Gospel testify to this, literally, with their lives: Miguel Pro in his martyrdom and the widow in her absolute poverty. Yet neither went unnoticed by their King.
In what ways do we lack trust in our King? What are ways which we resist, even small ways, His loving rule? We are not all called to a heroic death nor to surrender our last penny, but we are called to a radical trust in God in things both large and small. Miguel Pro and the widow both lived as though God was ultimately in control, and with this trust came a courage and a peace that allowed them to overcome the challenges of this life. May we, too, come to have such faith.