1 Kings 17:7-16; Psalm 4; Matthew 5:13-16
The First Reading shows us how God comes to our lives and calls us to himself. Elijah came to a widow and asks for water and the small piece of bread in her hand. When God comes to us, he does not ask us for anything grand. He asks us for what we have, in this case, Elijah asks for a piece of bread already in her hand. The widow told Elijah she was going to make bread from whatever is left so she and her son can finish the meal and die from starvation. Elijah told her to go and bake bread for him then she can bake the rest for herself and her son. Elijah then promised her: the jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the Lord sends rain on the earth.
God always enters our lives, and very often, in ways we do not expect. In this case for the widow, he entered through Elijah who did not ask for anything the widow did not have. The widow did not have anything else, but the last meal and oil. But Elijah told her to give him a small piece of bread promising her that she will have enough to eat during the famine. What did the widow feel when Elijah asked her for a piece of bread? She was worried perhaps, angry that this man was so insensitive to her lack of food. Yet, she did as Elijah asks and she experienced the providence of God.
We are currently in situations of uncertainties. Perhaps, like the widow, we do not have enough left, we may not even know where our next meal will come from. But God always enters these situations. What does he demand? A little of what you have. I am not telling you to give your money away. What I am telling you is to trust God. Perhaps more than your money, God wants you to surrender your life and situation to him. For the widow, giving a small piece of bread is a sign of her surrender to God. Perhaps to you, it could be visiting the church to pray before him, to say a decade of the rosary, to spend more time in prayer. God does not demand what we do not have, because he wants us to give what we have.
This is what Jesus reminds us in the Gospel today. He uses a small, common thing we find at home: salt. And he compares us to this: You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything but is thrown out and trampled underfoot. We are useful when we fulfill our purpose. If we do not fulfill our purpose in life, then we are useless and to be discarded.
A lot of people think they do not amount to anything, that they have no skill, no education, nothing to give God. Yet, as we have seen, God will not ask us for something we do not have! When we surrender what God asks of us, then he will move to lead us to fulfill our purpose in life. What is our purpose in life? Jesus said we are the light of the world to bring light to all in the house. We are the light of the world, in the sense that our light should shine before others specifically, for one purpose alone: to see your good works AND give glory to your Father in heaven. This is our purpose in life: to give glory to our Father in heaven and God will make sure we fulfill this when we surrender what he asks. We fulfill this not on our own effort, but when we let God take over our lives. This is not easy because it is scary to let someone take control of our lives. Yet, as Elijah said in the first reading: Do not be afraid. God knows what situation you have. God knows what you have and what you do not have. And I say again, he will not demand what you do not have. Step out in faith. Tell the Lord as the Psalm today says: Answer me when I call, O God of my right! You gave me room when I was in distress. Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer. God loves you so much, he will not lead you to destruction. He wants you to be light to shine before others so they can see the good works and give glory to the Father in heaven.
We celebrate St Ephrem, who lived in the 4th Century. He was a deacon who refused to be ordained a priest and when his city fell to their enemies, he lived as a hermit in a cave and devoted his life to writing commentaries to refute the errors of his day. He was the first to introduce hymns for public worship. He did not do anything beyond his abilities. He just surrendered what he had, all he is to God for the glory of God.
Lord, I know you are here with me. I know you see me. I know you have a plan for me: to do good works so people may give glory to your Father in heaven. You know what I have, you know what I do not have. Despite my faults, you call me to you. And you ask me for that one thing I hold, that hinders me from knowing you more, from loving you more. Show me Lord, what you are asking from me. I allow you to drive me to give what you ask, even if I find it hard to give it to you. Take Lord and do with me as you will. All for the glory of your Father’s name.