Salt and light: on the one hand that is what we are as Christians. On the other hand, we must willingly be that for the world. If we live with faith, hope and love we are salt and light for the world. If we do not, we place that light under a basket, and the salt loses its savor. The widow in today’s first reading is prepared to die and have her last act on earth be charity towards Elijah the prophet. She had planned to use the last of her resources on the bread she and her son would share before they would die of starvation. The man of God asks her to offer him a little cake first, with no promises attached. Give to God first, then see to your own plans for survival. The Lord has created us, He holds our lives in His Hands. If the time has come for our departure from this world, why would we refuse the obedience of charity?
By acting on her faith and hope in God, this widow becomes salt and light for the world. She gives flavor to faith and radiates the way to follow. I don’t think she hoped for miraculous survival so much as she looked forward to the life to come. Have we hoped in God for this life only? (1 Cor 15:19) Our hope must be firmly attached to what lies ahead. (Phil 3:13)
In the wood is shown the mystery of the cross, in the water the sacrament of baptism. Therefore, she had gone out to gather two sticks of wood, for thus she replied to blessed Elijah when he asked her for food: “As the Lord lives, I have nothing but a handful of meal and a little oil in a cruse; and behold, I am going out to gather two sticks that I may make food for me and my son … and we will eat it and die.” The widow typified the church, as I said above; the widow’s son prefigured the Christian people. Thus, when Elijah came, the widow went out to gather two sticks of wood. Notice, brothers, that she did not say three or four, nor only one stick; but she wanted to gather two sticks. She was gathering two sticks of wood because she received Christ in the type of Elijah; she wanted to pick up those two pieces because she desired to recognize the mystery of the cross. Truly, the cross of our Lord and Savior was prepared from two pieces of wood, and so that widow was gathering two sticks because the church would believe in him who hung on two pieces of wood.1
ISHO‘DAD OF MERV:
“[First] make me a [little] cake.” He certainly did not make this request because he was hungry but to teach the widow that, through the mediation of the priests, some of the first fruits of her crops had to be offered to God. In the same manner Elijah said to the wife of the prophet, “Bring me a full vessel.”2
CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA:
He calls “salt” the frame of mind that is filled with the apostolic word, which is full of understanding. When it has been sown in our souls, it allows the word of wisdom to dwell in us. It has been compared with salt because of salt’s good taste and delightfulness. For without salt neither bread nor fish is edible. So too without the apostles’ understanding and instruction, every soul is dull and unwholesome and unpleasant to God.3
For by saying, “You are the salt of the earth,” Jesus signifies that all human nature itself has “lost its taste,” having become rotten through sin. For this reason, you see, he requires from his disciples those character traits that are most necessary and useful for the benefit of all.4
The metaphors of salt and light drive home the great benefit of these stinging words and the profit of this rigorous discipline, how it binds and does not permit us to become dissolute in our behavior.5
- SERMON 124.3. Conti, M., & Pilara, G. (Eds.). (2008). 1-2 Kings, 1-2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther (p. 104). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- BOOKS OF SESSIONS 1 KINGS 17:13. Conti, M., & Pilara, G. (Eds.). (2008). 1-2 Kings, 1-2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther (p. 104). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- FRAGMENT 41. Simonetti, M. (Ed.). (2001). Matthew 1–13 (p. 92). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW, HOMILY 15.6. Simonetti, M. (Ed.). (2001). Matthew 1–13 (p. 92). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW, HOMILY 15.7. Simonetti, M. (Ed.). (2001). Matthew 1–13 (p. 93). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.