“So the word of the LORD came to him: Arise, go to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have commanded a widow there to feed you. He arose and went to Zarephath. When he arrived at the entrance of the city, a widow was there gathering sticks; he called out to her, “Please bring me a small cupful of water to drink.” She left to get it, and he called out after her, “Please bring along a crust of bread.” She said, “As the LORD, your God, lives, I have nothing baked; there is only a handful of flour in my jar and a little oil in my jug. Just now I was collecting a few sticks, to go in and prepare something for myself and my son; when we have eaten it, we shall die.” Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid. Go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake and bring it to me. Afterwards you can prepare something for yourself and your son. For the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 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.” She left and did as Elijah had said. She had enough to eat for a long time—he and she and her household.” (1 Kings 17:8-15)
In the narrative of the widow at Zarephath from the First Book of Kings, the widow is asked to share from her poverty. She does not have anything baked, and only a handful of flour in her jar. She does not remain paralyzed in her poverty, but instead offers what she has. In our poverty and weakness, we are often tempted to grasp or hold on to what we have. This stems from a mindset of scarcity in which we do not trust that there will be enough –enough time, money, food, respect, honor, people… However, the call is great. Every person, without exception, is invited to care for the poor and vulnerable among us. We are invited to give with the same spirit as the widow of Zarephath –out of our seeming poverty. Trusting that the Lord is King and provides for all of our needs gives us the grace to live in a spirit of abundance. In doing so, we can see that nothing is our own, but all is a gift.
The widow was blessed with an unending supply of bread making supplies. We may not be rewarded with material goods for our generosity, we will become more conformed to Christ –receiving His never ending supply of grace. St. Ignatius of Loyola said, “God will never be outdone in generosity.” How can we live a spirit of generosity and abundance, entrusting ourselves to God’s care?
Pray: Prayer for Generosity –St. Ignatius of Loyola
Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve as you deserve,
To give and not to count the cost,
To fight and not to heed the wounds,
To labor and not to seek to rest,
To give of myself and not ask for a reward,
Except the reward of knowing that I am doing your will.
Act: Find one concrete way to live from a spirit of abundance and generosity this week.
Examples: Do not look at your watch during conversations, Volunteer with Catholic Charities, Invite others to eat a meal with you, Donate to Catholic Charities