WEEKLY INSPIRATION

Welcome to the Spirituality Page's "Weekly Inspiration" at ABCNews.com. Each week a new reflection on some aspect of spirituality and faith will be posted right here. The authors will be as varied as we are, from all of the religious traditions and faith denominations. It will be an interfaith and ecumenical site to enable our thought and conversation about the many aspects of spirituality and faith that touch our lives every day. We hope that it will be a valuable resource to you as you explore your own faith journey and interconnectedness with the world of Spirit.

Please feel free to send suggestions for topics and authors from whom you'd like to hear. You may do so at the Shout Out box for comments on the Spirituality webpage. We look forward to hearing from you and to exploring different avenues of faith together.

-- Father Edward L. Beck, C.P., editor of "Weekly Inspiration"

There are no more vulnerable groups in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures than widows. Writing in the days before welfare, insurance, or health care reform, the Biblical writers were keenly aware that, left without a man to provide for them, widows had little chance of survival. In a patriarchal society where men ruled and were the bread winners, widows were left to fend for themselves with little to assure that they could actually survive. And for this reason, they seem to be of particular concern for God- a God who is intent on them surviving. Two widow stories from the Scripture illustrate profound Biblical teaching and insight.

In the First Book of Kings (17:10-16) we have the prophet Elijah going to Zarephath. He encounters a widow there and asks her to bring him a small cupful of water and a piece of bread. This is the first oddity. Doesn't he know that the widow is the one in need? That she is the one who has lost everything. She is living with her son in the midst of a famine and has come down to her last meal. She tells Elijah that she has nothing, only a handful of flour left in her jar and a little oil in her jug. She was about to prepare the last meal for her and her son before they die. Men are all the same, she must have thought. But Elijah has a different plan. He tells her not to be afraid and to go and do as he says. And also to make him a little cake and bring it to him! He assures her that God says, "The jar of flour shall not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry." She leaves and does as Elijah says and indeed what he says comes to pass. The jar of flour did not go empty and the jug of oil did not run dry. And not only does Elijah eat, but she and her son ate fully for another year.

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