I’d like to share with you an old story. It’s about a young rabbi who was frustrated that the people of the synagogue didn’t recognize his gift of wisdom. He was a bitter and resentful man because of this.
One day an old and revered rabbi was invited to the synagogue. He was recognized as a very wise man. As the old guy was teaching, the young rabbi came up to him with a tiny sparrow in his hand.
He asked, “Can you please tell me if this sparrow is alive or dead?”
Now the young rabbi had planned that if the old rabbi said the sparrow was alive the young rabbi would crush the small creature, hold it out for all to see, proving the old rabbi wasn’t as smart as they thought. If the old rabbi said, “The bird is dead,” the young rabbi would release the bird and let it fly away, thereby proving he was wiser than the old rabbi.
And so he asked the question, “Is the sparrow alive or dead?”
Everyone in the synagogue waited for the old rabbi’s response. With great compassion, the old man looked at the young rabbi and said, “It is up to you, my friend.”
It’s up to you.
These words are important for us to hear. So much of difficulties in life come from our looking at situations the wrong way, or letting jealousy, or our emotions get the better of us, and influence our decisions.
The poor widow in the Old Testament reading has a negative outlook on her situation. The way she sees it, her life, like the jar of flour, was nearing empty and everything was headed toward the end—-toward death: “There is only a handful of flour in my jar and a little oil in my jug.”
But Elijah assures her that the way she sees things is not the way God sees them, and if she trusts God and does things his way, the outcome will be different than what she expected—-it will be better than what she expected. But she had to be willing to trust and to follow.
Think for a moment of Christ on the cross. Mary, his mother is standing there, not able to do much about her son’s terrible suffering and death. The apostles, with the exception of John, ran away and hid in a locked room somewhere. Mary chose to stay with Christ and persevere. The apostles in this scene gave in to their despair and what they thought had happened and that influenced their decision to be overwhelmed by fear and worry about what would happen to themselves.
But remember, Christ’s terrible suffering would end, and something NEW would take place. Mary’s courage and her openness to grace helped her to stay focused on the right thing—-her Son’s promises.
So, it’s up to us. The faith, live a life of fear and despair. Mary chose her faith—-chose God in the darkest of days, and because she did her “Jar” stayed full. If we chose to stay with God no matter what, God will give us strength, endurance and courage.
Say this prayer: God, give me such a faith and such power.
It is there! All we need to do is ask. It’s up to you.