The brook near where Elijah was hiding ran dry,
because no rain had fallen in the land.
So the LORD said to Elijah:
“Move on to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there.
I have designated a widow there to provide for you.” (1 Kgs 17:7-9)
Today’s first reading is rich in meaning, particularly in trust and in giving of our very selves.
Elijah had a problem. The stream that provided him water while he was hiding from his enemies ran dry. Everyone knows what happens when there is no more water. Sooner or later, there is no more life. Elijah knew that he was going to have to go somewhere to get more water. He would have two or three days, at most, to get more water.
Elijah then had a second problem. God told him where to go to get water. However, he was to go to an outsider, a Gentile, to get what he needed. That was rife with problem. Gentiles and Israelites did not mix very well. There could easily be a lot of danger for Elijah.
Elijah had to trust that God would provide for him as God had promised.
The widow of Zarephath had a problem as well. Because of a great famine that was decimating her people, she had very little provisions left. As a matter of fact, she was down to enough ingredients to make one more meal for her and her son. After they ate that, there would be nothing left. They, like many of their people, then would starve to death. Resigned, she set out to gather sticks to make a small fire to prepare their last meal.
While gathering sticks, she encountered Elijah, an outsider, who approached her and asked for a small meal.
She was astounded.
Even if should would want to give this stranger, this outsider, the time of day, she had nothing left to eat except for the last meal of her and her son.
Elijah told her that she would be all right. All she needed to do was to provide him a meager meal first. Elijah wanted her to trust him.
For some reason, she did trust Elijah.
She dipped into her final stores and made a small meal cake for him. Elijah ate. Then she went to prepare the rest for herself and her son.
She found that she had enough for a meal, and some left over.
After the next meal for her, her son, and Elijah, she had more provisions left over for still another meal.
And thus it went, for an entire year. She and her son and Elijah never wanted for a meal. Whilst the famine lay claim of many in the land, they ate from the meager provisions until the famine ended.
Elijah and the widow both were challenged to trust. They both did.
The widow was challenged to give of her very sustenance. She did.
All were rewarded.
FAITH ACTION: Have we been selfish with any of our possessions when someone has asked us to share? Perhaps it is the Lord challenging us to open our hearts and give. Do so. You will be pleasantly surprised at the results.