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Tue, 6/9/20: Elijah and the Widow of Zarephath

Updated: Jun 16

Today's readings can be found: [HERE]


In these last few days, the first reading for our daily Masses have focused our attention on the prophet, Elijah. On Monday, we saw Elijah flee east towards the Wadi Cherith, after the Lord first shut the heavens, causing a draught that would afflict the land for three-and-a-half years; and with the drought would come famine.


From a certain perspective, the drought and famine were merely physical expressions of what Israel had lacked spiritually. After all, the Israelites had fallen away from worshipping the Lord and had turned their hearts to foreign gods.


It may well be by this point that Elijah was already the last of the prophets of the Lord, as all others had been hunted down at the command of Jezebel, the wife of Ahab. In any case, we saw Elijah living simply, away from civilization, drinking water from the stream, and eating food brought to him by ravens sent by the Lord.


We then saw Elijah move on towards Zaraphath of Sidon, where he met a widow there whom he entreated for water and small bit of bread. After receiving her kindness, Elijah prophesied that "the jar of flour shall not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, until the day when the Lord sends rain upon the earth." Elijah stayed there for a year. One can imagine a hidden and peaceful domestic scene, far from the machinations of men.


I think of these two instances amid the recent pandemic. As it was with the drought and famine in the days of Elijah, the pandemic crisis has covered the entire world with its shadow. But as Elijah was able to live simply for a time, we too in many cases have been called upon to do the same; to simplify our daily experience, letting go of little luxuries here or there, or letting go of the complicated routines from our pre-COVID-19 days.


And as Elijah was able to take refuge in the home of the widow of Zarephath, we too have been given the opportunity of finding blessings in the home; little consolations that have as their context a domestic scene as simple as the one enjoyed by Elijah.


Despite world-encompassing tragedy, by the grace of God, it is possible to find little "pockets" of blessings around God's chosen ones. May we be numbered among them, and be a source of blessing to others.

Giovanni Lanfranco - Elijah Receiving Bread from the Widow of Zarephath [wikimedia]

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