Look After Widows and Orphans: James 1:27

As our journey down the Ancient Path leads us to the season of Advent, our focus will shift to look at the intersection of these rules for Christian formation and the celebration of Advent. Traditionally, Advent is a season of expectation— when we reflect on Christ’s first coming and anticipate His second coming.  While Benedict’s Rule 4.70: Look After Widows and Orphans may not seem like it is related to Advent, the heart of God revealed in this rule of formation is inextricably tied to it.

    When James was inspired to write James 1:27, Jewish women could not own property except in certain rare circumstances. Should a woman’s husband die, she would likely be left with no means to support herself without the intervention of a kinsman redeemer (the Book of Ruth is a beautiful example of such an intervention). Orphans faced a similar fate—they were many times left to fend for themselves. Sadly, it was not uncommon for both widows and orphans to end up as slaves, either voluntarily or involuntarily. And this is why the plight of widows and orphans should be close to the heart of every believer, especially during this season.

    In Advent, we look back on when Jesus Christ stepped down from the throne of heaven to humble himself and become our Kinsman Redeemer, and we look forward to the promise of John 14:18, when Jesus promised, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”


    1. Imagine for a moment you are a Jewish widow during Biblical times. How do you feel: scared, desperate, abandoned?

    2. Now imagine someone coming forward to redeem you. How do you feel towards your redeemer? How do you feel towards God?

    3. When we look after widows and orphans, how are we reflecting the heart of God?

    4. What goes through your mind when you read Jesus’ promise in John 14:18? Do you embrace that promise, or do you struggle with it?

    5. Advent is a season when we are reminded to live our lives in expectation of Christ’s second coming. Would you say you live in expectation? Why or why not? What changes might living in expectation bring to your life?