Elisha, the man of God, went about his work as God directed him. As he traveled, he needed food and shelter but he only trusted in God to provide. On this occasion, He came to Shunem which is a small city near Mt. Tabor where he encountered a rich woman who invited him to dinner. However, the woman subsequently convinced her husband they needed to make a room where the prophet could stay each time he comes around. Her justification was that Elisha was “a holy man of God.” And by attending to his needs, she expressed her love for God. What she did can be described as corporal works of mercy; feeding the hungry and providing shelter. They are seven in all. The other five are: to give drink to the thirsty, visit the sick, visit prisoners, bury the dead, and give alms to the poor. All these works are grounded in the teachings of our Lord in the Gospel (Mt. 25:42-44) on how we are to relate to others, stressing that love is to motivate us in what we do. Through these works, we recognize God’s presence in the poor amongst us, and attend to their needs. As Jesus reminds us “in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers (or sisters) of mine, you did it to me.” (Mt. 25:40) This is a reminder for us of the sacrifice we are asked to make as we keep our focus on Jesus. It is only by letting go in the service of others, acknowledging the Christ in them that we are truly blessed. As the childless woman was blessed with a child for her hospitality, God equally rewards each one for good done.
Father Ben Faneye