“Jesus said to the people in the synagogue at Nazareth: «Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place.
Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land.
It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon.
Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”
When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury.
They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong.
But he passed through the midst of them and went away.” -Luke 4:24-30.
Commentary on the reading of the day provided by:
Saint John Chrysostom (c.345-407), priest at Antioch then Bishop of Constantinople, Doctor of the Church
Sermon on Elijah and the widow and almsgiving; PG 51, 348
The widow of Sarepta welcomes the prophet Elijah with every generosity and expends all her poverty in his honor 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.