Trusting God: The Doorway to Lasting Blessings

User’s Guide to Sunday, Nov. 7

One saint who exhibited great trust in God was St. Joseph, shown depicted in  a statue in Budapest, Hungary, on Sept. 16.
One saint who exhibited great trust in God was St. Joseph, shown depicted in a statue in Budapest, Hungary, on Sept. 16. (photo: Daniel Ibanez / CNA)

Sunday, Nov. 7, is the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time. Mass Reading: 1 Kings 17:10-16; Psalm 146:7-10; Hebrews 9:24-28; Mark 12:38-44 or 12:41-44.

The first reading in Sunday’s Mass (1 Kings 17:10-16) speaks to us of the paradox of poverty: It is our poverty, our neediness, that provides a doorway for God to bless us with truer riches. Our emptiness grants a kind of freedom to us and provides room for God to go to work. Let’s examine this reading in stages. 

First, we see the “Desire Portrayed”: The prophet Elijah encounters a widow at the entrance of the city of Zarephath, a name that means “refining fire.” Elijah calls out to her in his hunger and thirst, asking for bread and water. Indeed, both Elijah and the widow are hungry and thirsty, for there is famine in the land. The widow’s hunger for earthly food is a symbol of the deeper hunger for communion with God. Elijah’s hunger represents God’s “hunger” for our faith and love. At some point our hunger must meet God’s hunger in a kind of Holy Communion. Thus, two people meet at the crossroads of desire. It is desire that has drawn them, a desire that is ultimately satisfied only in God.

Second, we see the “Doorway of Poverty”: In reply to Elijah’s request for a small cupful of water and a bit of bread, she answers that she has nothing baked and is down to her last meal for herself and her son. Death by starvation soon awaits them. 

There is a strange kind of freedom in poverty. The poor have less to lose and everything to gain. But the wealthy, who have much to lose, are often fearful of losing status or comfort. Hence, they are often shackled by fears and make easy compromises with the world. “The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of a rich man permits him no sleep” (Ecclesiates 5:12). 

As we shall see, the widow’s poverty is a kind of doorway that opens her to lasting blessings. Having little to lose, she is free enough to accept the challenging next stage of our story.

Thirdly, there is the “Demand Prescribed”: God’s prophet, Elijah, instructs her to put God first by bring him bread and water and then afterward to prepare the same for her and her son. 

On a human level, Elijah’s request seems almost cruel and selfish. But from a spiritual perspective, he is summoning her to the courageous faith that alone can truly save her. Elijah tells her not to be afraid to share and teaches her that the Lord will not be outdone in generosity. He promises a blessing of continuing bread and oil for the duration of the famine. 

As we noted above, her poverty has a kind of freeing quality. She is willing to take the risk, having little to lose and everything to gain. How about us?

Lastly, there is the “Deliverance Produced”: Having little to lose, the woman trusts in God’s word through Elijah and shares her food. The jar of flour did not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, as the Lord had foretold through Elijah. She is among the poor in spirit. Owning nothing and trusting fully in God, she comes to possess the riches of the Kingdom. Scripture says, “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days” (Ecclesiastes 11:1).

Consider this woman who was poor enough to be free and free enough to trust the Lord — and God did not fail. How free are you? Free enough to trust the Lord?