- 1 Kings 17:8-16, (17-24)
- Psalm 146
- Galatians 1:11-24
- Luke 7:11-17
Both the Old Testament and our Gospel readings for today tell similar stories in which the dead are brought back to life. Both of the stories center around widows.
In first century Israel, women did not live independently. A widow without a son who could provide for her face a precarious future. She had no inheritance rights and were dependent upon other family members or charity for their very survival. God is depicted as one who defends widows and their children, and the neglect of widows and orphans incurs Divine wrath.
The story from 1 Kings takes place during the course of a three-year drought in which the Lord prompted Elijah to go to the territory of Sidon, where a widow would provide food for him. It is a story of risk, transformation, promise, and danger.
Jesus and his followers would be familiar with this story of Elijah. Luke’s account of the raising of the son of the widow of Cain has several parallels. Jesus acts out of compassion to restore the dead man to life and the woman to her position in the community. Paired with last week’s Gospel (Luke 7:1-10) of the healing of the centurion’s slave, we see Jesus’s concern for those marginalized in the world.
Luke ends the account of these stories with the reaction of the crowd. Continuing to grapple with the identity of Jesus, the many people who witness the event call Jesus a “great prophet” and recognize that God has indeed been present to them through the word of Jesus. According to tradition, prophecy had ended with Ezra, and its renewal was expected to indicate the approach of God’s Messiah.
The word about Jesus spreads throughout Judea.
- Imagine that you are either the widow of Zarephath or the widow of Nain. Describe what it might be like for them as their sons died and then were restored to life.
- What do both widow’s experiences suggest about the power of God’s word in our own lives?
- What do their experiences suggest about God’s attitude toward us in our times of vulnerability and weakness?
- In what ways is the weeping widow (in Luke) blessed?
- What prompted Elijah in 1 Kings and Jesus in the Gospel to perform these miracles? How would you characterize the responses of those present to the miracles?
- What do we learn about Jesus’ role as a prophet?
- All of today’s readings reflect the restorative power of God’s presence. How have you felt this presence in your own life?