Our first reading today tells the story of Elijah being sent to request water and food from a poor widow who is herself in dire straits. It was a story well known enough for Jesus to have mentioned it in his teaching (in Luke chapter 4) to illustrate the fact that prophets had often been rejected by their own people. This was because Elijah, who had confronted the king of Israel and his wife for setting up a temple to worship a pagan deity, had been sent by God to take refuge outside Israel and during a drought to seek out a non-Jewish woman for help. Elijah finds this gentile woman prepared to listen to the word of God, whilst the people of Israel reject it. When Jesus mentions this story (in his home town of Galilee), his own people indeed reject him and try to throw him off a cliff !
Elijah’s encounter with the widow is a story about keeping faith with God in difficult times. Elijah has found himself, in obedience to God’s word, alone and starving in a foreign land. Why on earth, he must have thought, has God sent him to ask this poor widow for food ? She has watched her food supplies dwindle down to the very last and she is preparing a last meal and accepting that she and her son will then die. But Elijah tells her not to be afraid and that he has received the word of the Lord that her final scraps of grain and oil will last till the end of the drought. Trusting in the word of God, she shares the food with Elijah and miraculously the food does indeed last.
Help us dear Lord to trust in you in good times and in bad. Help us always to try to share your gifts with those less fortunate than ourselves, for you O Lord love the just and protect the stranger.