In this reading, we meet a woman depleted. She has exhausted her food supplies and as she prepares a last meal for herself and her son, Elijah shows up asking for food and drink—a hard request for her to honor given her circumstances. Yet the Spirit of God calls her to offer hospitality out of her nothingness.
Imagine this scene: a woman sharing her grief with a stranger, protesting that she simply has nothing to offer in this famine time. She is out of resources in all ways. Indeed, she expects death after preparing this final meal for her family. In response to the emotion she surely conveys in her tone and body language, Elijah says, “Do not be afraid.”
The widow does as Elijah asks (as God directed), and in a miraculous increase of her sharing, all are sustained. And more, relationships are nurtured. The story indicates that Elijah stays on with the woman and her family. This story resonates with Gospel accounts of fishes and loaves: Sharing when there is “not enough” changes everything.
When we feel depleted, it feels difficult to offer hospitality. To give when our resources are nil, whether they be emotional or physical, seems too much. Yet God often asks us to give out of this place of emptiness, even in our fear or grief. The truest hospitality comes when we have nothing in us to give. God can provide even when we have nothing left—either of basic resources or emotional resiliency.
Help us develop a posture of hospitality, God, living generously even in times of personal famine. May we be amazed at the miracles that follow our sharing from our nothingness. Amen.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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