Monday of the Third Week of Lent – 21 March – Our Lenten Journey with the Great Fathers – 4 Kings, 5:1-15, Luke 4:23-30
“O God, my wanderings You have counted; my tears are recorded in Your sight.” – Psalm 55:9
“There were many widows in Israel”
THE WIDOW OF SAREPTA welcomes the prophet Elijah with every generosity and expends all her poverty in his honour, even though she is a Sidonian foreigner. She had never heard what the prophets have to say about the merits of almsgiving, let alone the words of Christ: “You saw me hungry and gave me food” (Mt 25:35).
WHAT EXCUSE DO WE HAVE if, after such exhortations, after the promise of such great rewards, after the promise of the Kingdom of Heaven and its happiness, we fail to reach the same level of goodness as this widow? A Sidonian woman, a widow, burdened with the care of a family, threatened by famine and seeing the advent of death, opens her door to welcome an unknown man and gives him the scrap of meal she has left …
YET WE, WHO HAVE been taught by the prophets, have heard the teachings of Christ, have the opportunity of meditating on what is to come, who are not threatened by famine and who own a great deal more that this woman, are we to be excused if we dare not lay a finger on our goods to give of them? Are we going to neglect our own salvation? …
SO THEN, LET US SHOW GREAT compassion towards the poor so as to be made worthy of possessing good things to come for all eternity, by the grace and love for humankind of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – St John Chrysostom (347-407) Bishop of Constantinople, Great Father and Doctor of the Church (Sermon on Elijah and the widow and almsgiving; PG 51, 348).