Tag Archives: Elijah the prophet

Elijah and the widow

The jar of flour shall not go empty…
1 Kings 17: 14 

Elijah, fed by ravens (1 Kings 17:6)

Elijah, fed by ravens (1 Kings 17:6)

A famine has come over the land. Elijah has to leave his hideout because the stream has dried up. He goes to a pagan town and asks a widow for food and drink. But she has almost nothing and is awaiting death, together with her son.

How often have I experienced the hospitality of the poor. Though they have little, they are willing to share and will often offer a visitor the best they had.

I remember when I was on sabbatical in El Salvador in 1992, living with a poor family in the countryside. They were making their tortillas out of sorghum – maicillo – but always offered me corn tortillas.

I can’t remember how many times people have offered me a large meal and I’ve had to ask them to give me half of what they were offering.

It also helps that people now know that I don’t eat meat. They don’t kill a chicken for me when I visit so that I can have meat.

The hospitality of the poor is a challenge as was the hospitality of the widow.

She had nothing, but Elijah tells her not to be afraid but to prepare a small cake for him. She does it and the flour and oil last.

As I ponder today’s reading (1 Kings 17: 7-16), I see a connection between hospitality and trust in the Providence of God. Trusting in the providence of God doesn’t mean that everything will be easy and we won’t have problems or suffer. It means that we see that there is a loving God who created the universe – and us. And so, when we trust that a loving God is with us, then we can share.

When we think that we have to do everything for ourselves, as if we are the ones who can assure life and happiness, we hoard our possessions and don’t share.

Trust in God’s providence is hard for me.  I am a planner, a person who wants everything to work out well and to be in its place.

The hospitality of the poor should remind me to follow the example of our loving God who provides for us – though not always as we would hope.

Reconciling parents and children – Elijah

Elijah, fed by ravens (1 Kings 17:6)

Elijah, fed by ravens (1 Kings 17:6)

Elijah is my favorite Jewish prophet.

Elijah had fire in his belly. He was not afraid to confront the king, his wife, and the court priests of Baal.

I have problems with his massacre of the priests of Baal but his encounter with God on Mount Horeb perhaps helped redeem him from his bloodthirsty killing. There he finds God not in fire, thunder, or earthquake, but in a light breath, a gentle breeze. (1 Kings 17: 11-13)

Perhaps that reminded him of how he had raised the son of the widow of Zarephath to life by what looks like a form of artificial respiration – using the power of breath.

But what struck me this morning was the phrase from Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 48: 10: Elijah was destined “to turn back the hearts of fathers to their sons.”

It is a tender image. Recalling the sometimes difficult relations of fathers and sons, Elijah and John the Baptist (Luke 1: 17) have been given this calling. The Septuagint uses the word ἐπιστρέφω, which means turning back, the Latin Vulgate uses the word conciliare – to unite, to conciliate.

Our call – like John the Baptist’s and Elijah’s – is to help bring about the reconciliation that God desires, the reconciliation that is made real in Jesus, God become human, to effect reconciliation not through killing, but by giving himself up, letting himself be killed.

In light of the killings yesterday, let’s remember that we are all called to the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5; 17-20), a ministry which Christ has accomplished but which we are called to make real amidst the pain and suffering of our world.