But after a while the wadi dried up, because there was no rain in the land. Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, "Go now to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and live there; for I have commanded a widow there to feed you." So he set out and went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the town, a widow was there gathering sticks; he called to her and said, "Bring me a little water in a vessel, so that I may drink." As she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, "Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand." But she said, "As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jug; I am now gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go home and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die." Elijah said to her, "Do not be afraid; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterwards make something for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord the God of Israel: The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the Lord sends rain on the earth." She went and did as Elijah said, so that she as well as he and her household ate for many days. The jar of meal was not emptied, neither did the jug of oil ail, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.
When I call, answer me, O my just God,
you who relieve me when I am in distress;
Have pity on me, and hear my prayer!
Men of rank, how long will you be dull of heart?
Why do you love what is vain and seek after falsehood? (R./)
Know that the Lord does wonders for his faithful one;
the Lord will hear me when I call upon him.
Tremble, and sin not;
reflect, upon your beds, in silence. (R./)
O Lord, let the light of your countenance shine upon us!
You put gladness into my heart,
more than when grain and wine abound. (R./)
Jesus said to his disciples,"You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under-foot.
"You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven."
Just as salt sharpens the flavour of food and light lets us see what is there in a room, so the special salt and light provided by Christ's Spirit within us, enable us to say a generous "yes" to God's promptings, and see things as they are. The Holy Spirit of Pentecost puts into our mind this love for God and passion for truth so we can discover what God wants us to see. Sharpened in taste by the salt of this Gospel, and enlightened by the Spirit, we can respond to God with full hearts. A special kind of "yes" was spoken by the widow of Zarephath when the prophet Elijah asked her for food and water. Her generous, spontaneous answer was prompted by trust in God and her belief in Elijah's miraculous powers. Her faith, and her willingness to share with this stranger her last reserves of food and drink, brings to a spectacular blessing, to which Jesus refers, centuries later, as a classic instance of the powers of a prophet.
To return to Christ's words about salt and light, when they share his message with others his disciples do not add anything totally new but by their wit and expressive power they helped people recognize and value what they already were, as creatures of God, redeemed by Jesus. What the disciple says and does should be like a candle set on a lampstand to give light to the house. "So your light must shine, so that they may see your goodness in action and give praise to your heavenly Father." As disciples and as ministers of his blessing we are all called to be light and salt, enabling others to see how much love God has invested in them. We can lead others, and ourselves, to know the hidden presence of the Holy Spirit. It is Jesus who has anointed and sealed us with the Spirit in our hearts. This Holy Spirit is our down payment, our first reception of the full glory and joy of heaven, the beginning of the final "yes" when God will receive us home.
In the gospel, Jesus the Jew is respectful of his own Jewish tradition, "don't imagine that I have come to abolish the Law and the Prophets." However, he also declares that he has come to complete the Law and the Prophets, to bring their true intention to fulfilment. Jesus valued the good in his religious tradition, but was also open to the ways that God was working to enrich that tradition. We too are called to value the good in our own religious tradition, to critique the shadow side to that tradition and to be open and receptive to the ways that the Lord is constantly renewing and enriching that tradition. God is like the potter who takes what is there and reshapes it so that it serves his purposes more fully. God is always ahead of us in that sense; our task is to keep up with what God is trying to do.