Tuesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
(I Kings 17:7-16; Matthew 5:13-16)
It is not just that the widow of Zarephath gives up what represents her last piece of bread that impresses us but that she would do it for a foreigner whose religion she does not share. It would be as if a Muslim living in India were to freely donate one of her kidneys to a Christian in Argentina. But, of course, the widow does have something in common with the prophet. People the world over share a hidden desire for God who reveals Himself as goodness and truth in the depths of the human soul.
Since it consists of the same bread that we offer to God at mass, the woman’s offering prefigures our Eucharist. Just as God accepts the widow’s sacrifice and transforms it into a never-ending blessing for her and her child so too the bread which the Church consecrates becomes the body of Christ providing eternal life. The episode reminds us that hunger for God lies deeper than our appetite for bread. In pursuing the former, we find not just enough bread for our nourishment but the full promise of life which bread can only vaguely symbolize.