Homily by Fr. Paul Plante
32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
November 12, 2000
Scriptural Reference: 1 Kings 17:10-16
Let us take a look at the story about the widow of Zarephath. It is not only a beautiful and touching story about someone who has almost nothing and is still able to share. It is also a story about trusting in God and how God ends up taking care of those who trust in Him.
The prophet Elijah starts by asking the widow for a cup of water. The author tells us that she starts off to get him the cup of water. It looks as though she is ready to do someone a favor … the sign of a good person. But then Elijah asks for a bit of bread. It does not sound like that much more than the cup of water but the ingredients to bake bread – flour and oil she has so little of that once they have eaten the single bread she will bake they will have absolutely nothing left to eat. She fears death for her and her son.
Elijah goes on to make a promise in the name of God – start by giving me a bit of bread and you will not run out of flour and oil for yourself and your son. She shares not from her surplus, but what she needs to survive and God blesses her with a steady supply of flour and oil.
As short as the story is it creates quite a drama – and if we look more closely at our own lives, it can be the drama that is going on in each one of our lives.
I am like this widow in the sense that compared to all the needs – even here in the parish, I only have a little bit to offer. Even the most powerful – the richest person in the world is like this widow compared to all the needs of the world.
I am also like this widow because I have to believe that God will take care of me – and that is not always the easiest thing to accept – especially through difficult times – for any of us.
The widow was told not to worry – you and I have most likely been told not to worry – it takes true faith not to worry – to be able to put everything in God’s hand – to depend entirely on God’s loving care for us.
It is a constant struggle for me to see so many needs and to realize that I only have one day’s worth of flour and oil to see to all these needs. But if that is all God not only wants me to have – but feels that I need for myself and for others today, why shouldn’t I be satisfied and believe that if I am willing to share what God is giving me today? God will make the supply I need for tomorrow available – not now, but tomorrow when I need it.
This is not a story about what I need for myself. It is a story about what I need to share with others. And when we care for others, when we love them, what we have is the same as what we have to share – nothing is just for oneself.
Actually if the widow had kept the little she had for herself – she would have run out – it is because what she had was not just for herself that she did not run out.
As I try to serve the needs of this parish with my small supply of talents and virtues – my small supply of time and resources, I too will run out if I convince myself that I have so little that I have to keep it all for myself – and as little as I have, there will always be more if I generously share as much as God is asking.
Look at your own situation – accept that you have little compared to all that needs to be done – then see how God is asking you to share – even though you do not have much – even though you do not have enough – and then watch the supply be replenished again and again as long as you are fully trusting on God – depending on God.
May we all be like the widow of Zarephath and allow God to guide us in our needs and the needs of others.