At first glance the story about the widow in Zarephath seems a bit harsh, perhaps too demanding. How could God expect someone on the point of starvation to provide what would be their last meal to a stranger? Why would He ask someone to do such a thing? It reminds us of Abraham who is asked by God to offer his only son Isaac. When it is God Himself who asks, obedience must be understood as access to true happiness. God gives us these stories to remind us that we cannot discern what we ought to do without consulting Him, His Word, His prophets.
It’s hard not to think again back to the different mysteries we’ve celebrated this week when we read today in Peter’s first letter about the importance of hospitality. The whole Christian mystery is warmly enveloped in the human experience of hospitality. Last Sunday we celebrated the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity and one of the most famous and celebrated passages from the Old Testament that evokes this mystery sees it enveloped in the hospitality of Abraham and Sarah. The Trinity receives this hospitality of Abraham in the Old Covenant, and in the New Covenant, as if in response to Abraham’s generous welcome Jesus goes to prepare a place to welcome us in His Father’s house. Jesus’ most intimate moment with His disciples is at a meal where he shares all that He is and all that He has with them. Jesus is the Host in every sense of the word. Yesterday we celebrated the Feast of the Visitation where the first moment of Christian hospitality is shared by Mary and Elizabeth with great jubilation.