Extracted from one of today's readings, 1 Kings 17:10-16:
"... When [Elijah] 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 fail, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah."
"My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth." -- Psalm 121:2
LISTENING TO THIS STORY during mass this evening brought tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat although the story is familiar. What faith and generosity this poor widow had to give from the very little that she had to live on!
Was reminded of Romans 5:3-5 and two stories that Fr J told us during last Sunday's mass.
In his letter to the Romans, St Paul wrote, "... we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. "
In the real-life story, a brave lady from Holy Cross had insisted that her RCIA ministry (and life) must go on although she was already struggling so hard to cope with one tragedy after another -- her husband had died of cancer recently, one son was undergoing therapy and then, another son was in hospital with a broken spine. (For the other story, check out The Hospital Window.)
Watching a Hongkong comedy "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Father" on cable TV that evening had somehow reinforced the same message. The show starred an illiterate man in the 60s or 70s. He had so little money and resources. Yet, he had such compassion, bravery and optimism. Because he 'must', so he 'could' reach out and help so many people -- neighbours, friends, strangers and even robbers!
It's selflessly loving people like these who can make life meaningful and inspiring for others. As Msgr L. quoted Billy Graham this evening, "God has given us two hands -- one to receive with and the other to give with. We are not made cisterns for hoarding, we are channels made for sharing."
Lord Jesus, forgive me for not trusting in you enough, often fretting over many things. Forgive me for being so far from the 'salt of the earth' and 'light of the world' that You want us all to be (Matthew 5:13-16). Please continue to strengthen me and live in me so that one day, i'll truly live up to your call.
"Jesus said to his disciples: 'If your uprightness does not surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of Heaven.' " -- Matthew 5:20
A very meaningful e-thought for the day from Fr Philip Heng, sj: "Faith and Uprightness: According to Jesus, our uprightness must be exemplary. Thus, never be satisfied with mediocre honesty and goodness. As believers you must witness powerfully to Christ's Gospel. Otherwise, you are lukewarm in your faith. Are you?"