Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

The generosity is an investment

He [Elijah] left and went to Zarephath. As he arrived at the entrance of the city, a widow was gathering sticks there; 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 bit of bread.” “As the Lord, your God, lives,” she answered, “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 couple of sticks, to go in and prepare something for myself and my son; when we have eaten it, we shall die.” “Do not be afraid,” Elijah said to her. “Go and do as you propose …. .  She left and did as Elijah had said. She was able to eat for a year, and he and her son as well; The jar of flour did not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, as the Lord had foretold through Elijah. 1Kgs 17,10-16

In the Old Testament the first and the second book of the Kings are a unified work on the history of the jewish monarchy from the death of David (around 970 BC ) to the people jew exile in Babylon (587 BC). In the two books the figures of king Solomon and of the two prophets Elijah and Elisha stand. The stories about Elijah, which are part of the today passage, are among the most beautiful pages of the Bible, both from the literary and religious point of view. This today page, where you can breathe even the spirit of the messianic times, remembers us the answer which don Roberto,  parish priest of Castiglioncello, gave us when, having already twelve children, we asked him for advice on adopting two more from Brazil. “I do not know – said Don Roberto – if this is the will of God, but one thing I know is that the Lord is not beaten by anyone in generosity.” The widow of the today’s passage is very poor, she has only a little flour to take the last meal before dying of starvation along with his son. The prophet Elijah, who reminds us don Roberto, while knowing  her condition, asked  her water to drink and something to eat. Then he reassures her: “Do not be afraid”. The woman, though poor, opens the heart to the generosity and the miracle of the today passage takes place, which anticipates and predicts the multiplication of the loaves and of the fishes which Jesus will operate. Even in that case there will be a boy who will offer his five loaves and the two fishes to allow that five thousand peple could eat, besides the women and the children. There is a rule in the gospel and in the life which is not covered in any treatise of economics, because it is based on criteria of heavenly mathematics, according to which, if we make available to those who need what we have, we all become wealthy. It is a rule which we have experienced countless times: if, when we are in distress, a needy person asks us to share what we have, the sharing is to be considered as an investment. It is as if we would have bet at the roulette the last euro after the ball stopped. One day we were talking about generosity and providence in a somewhat snob context, in which certain matters are rarely dealt with. A lady, of whom we had underestimated the appearance, after listening, added: “It is true, my mother was always used to say: when they knock on the door, open. That time that you will not open, it was the Lord knocking.” Alleluia!

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