On Fidelity to God:
Elijah has been a zealous servant of God, and has paid a price: exile. He has been hiding in the wilderness, or rather fleeing through it on the good grace of God and with God's provision of just enough food, water and rest to get him to the next stage of his journey. Throughout his flight, he cries and cries out to God. His suffering and pain are real, both physical and psychic. What is real above all else is that God is with him and with those who shelter him.
On Keeping Going, in the Midst of Hardship:
It's one thing to be out there, struggling...but what happens when the struggle is not in the desert but inside the shelter of our own homes? The widow, suffering as those on the bottom rungs of society do when hard times come, is readying to cook the last meal she has for herself and her young son. After that? There is no after that, only starvation and the assumption of a certain death. Think on this, though, that when most would look at that meager bit of flour and that whisper of oil left in the jar and give up the widow is out gathering sticks. She is making a fire so that she can cook and so that she and her son might eat. That alone is enough to get her...and her son....and the prophet who meets her on her errand...to the next step in the journey.
On Death, and then Life:
Two widows lose their sons today. Sadness to be sure, but in our age and in this society we don't notice that we are not preparing for the funerals of two dead men, we are also readying ourselves for the deaths of two women who with the death of their sons will soon face a dark and certain fate. The prophet restores the son of the widow of Zarephath and the Lord restores the son of the widow of Nain. Both restorations are a celebration of God's love for the poor and those in need, and a reproof to us that we too easily forget or are blind to need when it is right in front of us and we have the power to do something about it. God snatches life from death, and restores relationships when we see only loss, decline and death.
New Life, Renewal of Self:
What comes with these resuscitations? God through the prophet's agency and Jesus himself take on an intimate act that many assume means pollution--the touching of a dead boy--in order to prove life overcomes death and that God's grace is abundant and flows freely to all. God is all about reconciliation. We forget that too often. Paul's testimony offers up a personal witness to God's power to effect change in our lives. We only have to be open to it when it presents itself.