Within, through, beyond the details of our first reading, the key theological point occurs in the last 2 sentences. The woman recognizes Elijah as a man of God. She also recognizes that he speaks the word of the Lord, and that the word of the Lord is effective: what God says happens. Similar conclusions are drawn by the people in today’s Gospel.

But why would the woman ask “Have you come to me to call attention to my guilt, and kill my son?” After all, this is the same woman who was about, with her son, to starve to death just before Elijah arrived. Thanks to Elijah visiting and staying with them, the oil and the flour didn’t run out; they had enough to eat during a prolonged famine. Her questions flow from this way of thinking. She was afraid that in the presence of a man of God, her sins could no longer be hidden. They would be open to Elijah and to God. Second step in her thinking: the false but common assumption, in the face of tragedy (her son’s death), it must be punishment from God. Once Elijah restores her son to life, it becomes quite clear, God doesn’t operate that way! Through Elijah, God visited her, not with disaster, but with nourishment in famine, with the breath of life when her son died. God visiting his people: that’s what happens when there is a prophet around.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016