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Our First Steps in Latin America: Chile, January 1989

There were two little sisters with the Bishop of Linares and the parish priest in the midst of a field of poor people, in a small “hut-chapel”, made of loose planks. And we were saying to the Lord: “Being mendicant among those who already have such little bread, how can we Lord?”

So, as in “cases of distress”, or in those moments when we so need the Lord’s light, we opened the Bible, and came across this very beautiful passage on the widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:7-16). Elijah asked this small widow for what she did not have any more: a morsel of bread in your hand … Yet, she was going to bake the bread with what was left, and God’s promise was fulfilled:

“Jar of meal shall not be spent, jug of oil shall not be emptied…”

In my heart I understood that for our part, we had to remain mendicant, and that God blesses the poor man, and multiplies the bread and oil for him! The next day, we returned to this place to beg for the first time in this country: on a street corner, we asked from a small, old grandmother; “How shall I give to passing people while I don’t even have the bare minimum for all these children?” she said pointing to five little ones standing there. Then we made friends, talked about the children and herself, and left, her and us happy to know each other. Her name was Laurentina. After that, a man called out to us, and we had to pass in front of the house we just left.

Thankfully! Because our small grandmother was just about to run after us. She was calling us “Hermanitas ! Hermanitas !”, “Little sisters ! Little sisters !” And she held out to us a warm round loaf baked in the embers!

This is how Scripture describes to us the bread Elijah received from the small widow of Zarephath. Yes, she is called Laurentina, the widow of Zarephath.

This small widow brings us back us to the widow of the Gospel who gave everything she had, her own living.

This is the heart of our Purpose of Life: “Those miseries” which our Father Dominic leaves us in this life dedicated to proclaiming the Gospel in “the abjection of voluntary poverty”.

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