Lectionary text for Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time:
1 Kings 17:8-16, (17-24): 8 “Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 9 ‘Go now to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and live there; for I have commanded a widow there to feed you.’ 10 So he set out and went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the town, a widow was there gathering sticks; he called to her and said, ‘Bring me a little water in a vessel, so that I may drink.’ 11 As she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, ‘Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.’ 12 But she said, ‘As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jug; I am now gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go home and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.’ 13 Elijah said to her, ‘Do not be afraid; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterwards make something for yourself and your son. 14 For thus says the Lord the God of Israel: The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the Lord sends rain on the earth.’ 15 She went and did as Elijah said, so that she as well as he and her household ate for many days. 16 The jar of meal was not emptied, neither did the jug of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.
17 After this the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became ill; his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. 18 She then said to Elijah, ‘What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to cause the death of my son!’ 19 But he said to her, ‘Give me your son.’ He took him from her bosom, carried him up into the upper chamber where he was lodging, and laid him on his own bed. 20 He cried out to the Lord, ‘O Lord my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I am staying, by killing her son?’ 21 Then he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried out to the Lord, ‘O Lord my God, let this child’s life come into him again.’ 22 The Lord listened to the voice of Elijah; the life of the child came into him again, and he revived. 23 Elijah took the child, brought him down from the upper chamber into the house, and gave him to his mother; then Elijah said, ‘See, your son is alive.’ 24 So the woman said to Elijah, ‘Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.”
Luke 7:11-17: “11 Soon afterwards he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. 12 As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. 13 When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’ 14 Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, ‘Young man, I say to you, rise!’ 15 The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. 16 Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, ‘A great prophet has risen among us!’ and ‘God has looked favorably on his people!’ 17 This word about him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country.”
Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time comment: Both texts narrate encounters of two Prophets, Elijah and Jesus. Both are called to minister to 2 women who were widows and the mother of sons. The widow's encounters with Elijah and Jesus are wonderful illustrations of faith, its power and its extraordinary results.
I have so often heard Christians say when they face difficulties and struggle making decisions or are too impatient to discern God's will, "Well, I' m just going to step out on blind faith." If I am interpreting their words correctly, they believe that they are about to step out on to 'nothingness' not seeing what direction to take, relying on their intuition. I would not be honest if I didn't admit that these words and this mindset irritate me. God sent Elijah to the widow in Zarephath. The two-fold purpose was care for Elijah himself and for the widow. The result of this relationship between Elijah and the widow was that she, her son and the prophet were cared for in tangible ways. "For thus says the Lord the God of Israel: The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the Lord sends rain on the earth.” (v. 14). The drought lasted 3 years. Also, when the widow of Zarephath's son became sick and died, Elijah raised him from the dead.
In Luke 7:11-17, Jesus the prophet, like Elijah, encounters a woman who is going to the cemetery to bury her son. Like Elijah, Jesus brings him back to life. The result was that the widow's economic and social status was restored. Women of this time depended totally on the man in the household for their lives. Then there was the effect of those who witnessed the miracle. "Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, 'A great prophet has risen among us!' and 'God has looked favorably on his people!" (V. 16)
It was eight hundred years or more from the time of Elijah and his encounter with the widow and Jesus' encounter with the widow at Nairn. How often did God show faithfulness that God is real and intervenes in the affairs of humanity? That faith that is anything but blind! It is a gift presented to us through flesh and blood people full of compassion and acting out of it for our benefit. The purpose of the incarnation of Jesus was for God to come into the world for us to see and touch. Jesus is the 'substance' of things hoped for the 'evidence' of things not seen (see Heb. 11:1). Through Jesus we learn that faith the size of mustard seed is all we need to live this life we are privileged to have.
O LORD, as we continue to remember Pentecost, teach us that you are Faithful. Holy Spirit empower us to believe that we, ordinary people incarnate God's love in our hearts, to 'gift' someone daily in extraordinary ways with this same faith we possess. AMEN
©June 2, 2010
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