The prophet Elijah needed shelter and food. He was running from Jezebel, wife of King Ahab, who wanted to put him to death. For some time Elijah was living by a brook and was brought food by ravens. But with a widespread drought, eventually the brook ran dry, and God sent him to a widow of Zarephath in Sidon. Widows along with orphans were often the most vulnerable and destitute, who were seldom with resources themselves and dependent on the charity of others. For Elijah to ask food from one who was herself vulnerable and destitute would require great humility and reliance on the providence of God. Scripture commentators often remind their readers how this scenario pointed to Jesus feeding the multitude from a handful of fish and a few loaves of bread. God is able to provide abundantly from poverty and want to show his great compassion and power to produce something out of nothing, especially to care for those dear to him and to accomplish his will.
Jesus tells his listeners, “You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.” Salt and light do nothing more than season, add joy, excitement, and interest to what can sometimes be ordinary and boring. As salt and light, we are sent to season, add joy, excitement, and interest to the lives of others, perhaps by our example of trust and words of encouragement. But sometimes we ourselves are in need of that salt and light because we are discouraged or exhausted or frustrated. We need great humility like Elijah to recognize that God alone can revive our flagging spirits, but will send to us those we least expect to reach out, to show God’s care, to nourish and to strengthen us for the work of his kingdom.
And when we are blessed to accomplish great things for God, our work is not done until God alone receives praise for his mercy and providence. “Your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Heavenly Father.” We deserve no praise. God alone does. But people will praise us anyway. And when we play down our role, we might actually draw more attention to ourselves unnecessarily. A simple “Thank you” suffices, and a humble acknowledgement that we are but crude and imperfect instruments in the hands of the Great and Awesome Architect.
Today’s mass was offered for the repose of +Jean & Tom Foley.
Rolo B Castillo © 2020