Tag Archives: Elijah

10th WEEK OF THE YEAR

JUNE 10 SUN TENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Gn 3:9-15/2 Cor 4:13—5:1/Mk 3:20-35 (89)

11 Mon Saint Barnabas, Apostle
Memorial
Acts 11:21b-26; 13:1-3 (580)/Mt 5:1-12 (359)

12 Tue Blessed Lorenzo Salvi, Passionist
1 Kgs 17:7-16/Mt 5:13-16 (360)

13 Wed Saint Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor of the Church
Memorial
1 Kgs 18:20-39/Mt 5:17-19 (361)

14 Thu Weekday
1 Kgs 18:41-46/Mt 5:20-26 (362)

15 Fri Weekday
1 Kgs 19:9a, 11-16/Mt 5:27-32 (363)

16 Sat Weekday
[BVM]
1 Kgs 19:19-21/Mt 5:33-37 (364)

Our first readings this week and next are from the Book of Kings–the story of Elijah, the prophet, who challenges Ahab the King of Israel and his notorious wife Jezebel. Elijah is a powerful prophet, one of the greatest of the prophets, who raises people from the dead and brings fire from heaven on his enemies, yet he left no writings; we know him mainly from the life he led.

In the First Book of Kings, Elijah is on the run most of the time, Ahab and his wife in pursuit. We follow him from water hole to water hole, hiding in mountain caves and isolated wadis in the desert, with scarcely enough to eat.

A difficult, humbling flight. Elijah appears in an icon hand to his head, wondering if he will make it, even as a raven hovers behind him bringing bread for the day. He makes it through a desperate drought, thanks to a poor widow who helps him out.

The powerful prophet is helpless, but God keep him going. And Elijah learns from experience how to see, so he sees God’s redeeming presence in a tiny far-off cloud and the whisper of a wind that says God is here.

Three holy people are remembered this week. St. Barnabas, a companion of Paul, is remembered on Monday. The Passionists remember Blessed Lorenzo Salvi on Tuesday, and the popular St. Anthony of Padua is remembered on Wednesday.

Elijah On the Run

Our first readings this week and next are from the Book of Kings–the story of Elijah, the prophet, and his interaction with Ahab the King of Israel and his notorious wife Jesebel.

Elijah is a powerful prophet, one of the greatest of the prophets; he raises people from the dead and brings fire from heaven on his enemies. Yet he leaves no writings, which means we know him mainly from the life he leads.

According to the First Book of Kings, Elijah is on the run most of the time, fleeing from Ahab and his wife in pursuit. We follow him from water hole to water hole, hiding in mountain caves and isolated wadis in the desert, with scarcely enough to eat. Most of our readings for the coming days are about a fleeing prophet.

It’s a difficult, humbling flight. A popular icon of Elijah pictures him hand to his head, wondering if he will make it, as a raven hovers behind him bringing bread for the day. He’s living through a desperate drought that the king and his enemies see him responsible for. He scrounges for food, even relying on a poor widow with almost nothing of her own.

The powerful prophet is helpless. He’s living through a drought, which God alone can lift. He needs food, which God alone can give. He has to wait for God to act.

Yet Elijah learns from this experience. It trains him to see. From experience, the prophet learns to see what others may not see, and so he sees God’s redeeming presence in the far-off tiny cloud that promises rain and the whisper of a wind that says God is here.

In Jesus’ time, people were hoping for a Messiah. Elijah was one type of Messiah some hoped for. He’s closest to the kind of Messiah Jesus was.

Isn’t Elijah in the drought like Jesus in the mystery of his Incarnation and Passion? “He humbled himself, taking on the form of a slave.” That humbling led to death on a cross. He was a rejected prophet, yet God raised him up in power.

Following him into the mystery of his Incarnation and Passion do we also gain a wisdom to see grace in weakness and death? In the small whisper where God can be found?

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time: B Elijah, Prophet on the Run

 

For the past few weeks the Old Testament readings at Mass on Sunday from the Book of Exodus have focused on the journey the whole Israelite community made through the desert after being freed by God from enslavement in Egypt. Today, the Old Testament reading at Mass from the Book of Kings recalls the journey of one man, the Prophet Elijah, who fled from the wicked King Ahab and his notorious wife Jezebel.

The Book of Exodus reminds us that God is with us as a people making our way to the Kingdom. The Book of Kings, as it tells the story of Elijah, reminds us that God’s with us individually as we make our personal journey through life.

Elijah is one of the greatest and most powerful of the prophets. He raises people from the dead and brings fire down from heaven on his enemies. He causes the rain to stop in punishment for unbelief. At the time of Jesus people wondered if Jesus weren’t Elijah appearing again. When Jesus is transfigured on the mountain, Moses and Elijah, two great figures from the Old Testament, appear at his side.

Yet, Elijah leaves no writings, as most of the prophets do, which means we know him mainly from the life he leads.

According to the Book of Kings, Elijah spends most of his life fleeing from Ahab and his wife Jezebel, his mortal enemies. They follow him from water hole to water hole as he flees south from northern Israel. He has to hide in mountain caves and isolated wadis in the desert, with scarcely enough to eat. Elijah may be a powerful prophet, but most of time he’s a prophet on the run.

It’s a difficult, humbling flight. A popular icon of Elijah pictures him hand to his head, wondering if he will make it, as a raven hovers behind him bringing bread for the day. He’s living through a desperate drought; the king and his all his followers are after him. He scrounges for food, even relying on a poor widow with almost nothing of her own. He wishes God would end it all.

The powerful prophet is helpless. He’s living through a drought that God alone can lift. He needs food that God alone can give. He has to wait for God alone to act.

Yet Elijah learns from this experience. It trains him to see. From experience, the prophet learns to see what others may not see, and so he sees God’s redeeming presence in the far-off tiny cloud that promises rain and the whisper of a wind that says God is here, or in a poor widow whom most would say is useless.

In Jesus’ time, people were hoping for a Messiah. Elijah was one type of Messiah some hoped for. He’s closest to the kind of Messiah Jesus was.

Isn’t that true? Isn’t Elijah on the run like Jesus in the mystery of his Incarnation and Passion? “He humbled himself, taking on the form of a slave.” That humbling led to death on a cross. He ended his life a rejected, helpless prophet, yet God raised him up in power.

Elijah invites us to learn from the journey we make, particularly from our experiences of weakness and death. We learn to see through the mystery of the cross. We gain the greatest wisdom through this mystery. What wisdom is better than the wisdom that sees God’s power in a tiny cloud, the slight whisper of a breeze, the helplessness of the poor? That’s a wisdom our times can use.

Elijah

Elijah
Jesus came into a Jewish world expecting a Messiah, but what kind of Messiah were they hoping for? Some Jews of the time expected a royal Messiah, the Son of King David. You see that expectation in the Gospel of Matthew which begins by tracing the human origins of Jesus back to David. “An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the Son of David and Son of Abraham.”

Hope for a Messiah like the warrior King David who would free the land of Israel from its oppressors grew stronger among the Jews after the Roman occupation of Palestine by the Roman general Pompey in 63 BC. It can be seen in some of the Essene writings discovered from Qumran in recent times.

The Gospel of Matthew indicates that ordinary people too were hoping for a kingly messiah at the time of Jesus. “Can this be the son of David,” the crowd says after he cured a man who could not see or speak. (Mt 12,23) “Hosanna to the son of David,” the crowd says as he enters Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. (Mt 21,9) That causes the leaders in Jerusalem to become angry, because a claim like that could fire revolution and they feared what would happen because of it. (Mt 21.15)

Jesus never claims to be a political revolutionary, however. He refuses to fit neatly into that kind of messianic expectation. He will not lead an uprising against the Romans. He’s not John the Baptist come back from the dead. “Jesus is not confined to playing an already fixed role–that of Messiah– but he confers, on the notions of Messiah and salvation, a fullness which could not have been imagined in advance.” (Pontifical Biblical Commission)

If we ask what messianic expectation of his time Jesus comes closest to, we might find it in the hope for a prophetic messiah like Elijah, who is featured in our readings this week.

Like Elijah, he will speak the truth against the powerful, he will help the poor, he will suffer persecution; he will raise the dead.

The Sinful Woman

Sinful woman
We’ve been reading from the Gospel of Luke most Sundays at Mass this year and for the last few weeks Luke speaks about women in the ministry of Jesus and of his church. Last Sunday there was the story of the widow of Naim, who was bringing her dead son to be buried. Jesus stopped the funeral cortege raised the boy to life and gave him back to his mother.(Luke7.11-17) This week there’s the story of the sinful woman of the town in a Pharisee’s house. Weeping, she pours an ointment over Jesus’ feet along with her tears. Then she dries them with her hair.(Luke 7,36-8,3)

Recall too the story from last Sunday’s Old Testament readings about a widow whose only son had died. Elijah raised her boy to life. (1 Kings 17,17-24)

Are these stories related? I think they may be. In Jesus’ day women who were widowed were especially vulnerable. Losing their husbands, they lost their support. If they lost their sons their plight was worse. In a society where men were the sole providers, women had nothing without them. It could happen in such a situation that women sold themselves, which leads us to the story for today. Was the woman in the gospel one of those women?

It’s a situation that exists even in our time. “Doesn’t he know what kind of woman she is?” Jesus’ host asks. Yes, he does. He understands her circumstances quite well. Luke’s gospel especially takes up their cause.

You notice how the gospel ends today with Luke’s summary of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem.

Accompanying him were the Twelve
and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities,
Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out,
Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza,
Susanna, and many others who provided for them
out of their resources. (Luke 8,1-3)

Luke carefully notes that women followed Jesus. He had empowered them; then they empowered him and his gospel. That’s the way love and forgiveness works. Luke reminds the men of his church that women had an important place in the life and ministry of Jesus. For him women’s issues were not just women’s issues, they were men’s issues as well.

Today is Fathers’ Day. As we honor fathers, let’s remember that the scriptures expand the definition of father beyond biological terms. God is “Our Father in heaven”, “Father of the poor”, “Father of the widow”, “Father of orphans.” He the God of the vulnerable. Luke embraces this expanded understanding of mother and father in his gospel. Let’s make it our own too.

God of Storms and Tiny Sounds

Sometime in the summer I go down to the Jersey Shore and just sit by the water. The other day some young boys were looking out at the ocean and one said to the other: “What do you think is out there where we can’t see?” The other said, “ I don’t know, but something’s out there.”

Little children were playing along the shore that day, and as mothers and fathers have always done, they stood close to the children telling them to watch themselves, the waves can be dangerous.

The sea is fascinatingly beautiful and dangerous at the same time. For St. Paul of the Cross, the founder of the Passionists, the sea was a favorite symbol of the infinite love of God and our spiritual passage to a new, uncharted future. He lived for many years on a mountain on Italy’s Tuscan coast and I think he spent a lot of time looking at the sea and learning from it too.

It’s a book that teaches us about life. We may believe in God’s love all right, but sometimes storms come that seem more powerful and we’re sure we’re going to sink.

That’s what happened to Peter in Sunday’s gospel. When told by Jesus to come to him over the water, he set out bravely, but “ when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter.”

The sure hand of God is stronger than the raging storms of the sea, our gospel reminds us. Hold on to that hand.  At the same time, our first reading from the Book of Kings reminds us that God is just as strong in quiet times when nothing much seems to be happening.

As the Prophet Elijah watches from his mountain cave, strong winds, earthquakes, fire strike the mountain, but he finds God, not in these, but in the “tiny whispering sound” where one might not expect God at all. God works in quiet times too.

 

 

Going to Mount Carmel: the Prophet Elijah

The Bible Today, edited by Fr. Donald Senior, CP, is always worth reading, The current issue has some fine articles about Messianism written by top scripture scholars. “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God,” Peter says at Caesarea Philippi, when Jesus asks him who people say he is.  We may forget that Jesus was not born Jesus Christ; the appellation “Christ” meaning “Messiah” was added later to his name by his followers. Peter wasn’t alone in this declaration: “We have found the Messiah (which means Anointed,” his brother Andrews says. (Jn 1,41)

Jesus came into a Jewish world expecting a Messiah, but what kind of Messiah were they hoping for? Some Jews of the time expected a royal Messiah, the Son of King David. You see that expectation in the Gospel of Matthew which begins by tracing the human origins of Jesus back to David. “An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the Son of David and Son of Abraham.”

Hope for a Messiah like the warrior King David who would free the land of Israel from its oppressors grew stronger among the Jews after the Roman occupation of Palestine by the Roman general Pompey in 63 BC. It can be seen in some of the Essene writings discovered from Qumran in recent times.

The Gospel of Matthew  indicates that ordinary people too were hoping for a kingly messiah at the time of Jesus. “Can this be the son of David,” the crowd says after he cured a man who could not see or speak. (Mt 12,23) “Hosanna to the son of David,” the crowd says as he enters Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. (Mt 21,9) That causes the leaders in Jerusalem to become angry, because a claim like that could fire revolution and they feared what would happen because of it. (Mt 21.15)

Jesus never claims to be a political revolutionary, however.  He refuses to fit neatly into that kind of messianic expectation. He will not lead an uprising against the Romans. He’s not John the Baptist come back from the dead. “Jesus is not confined to playing an already fixed role–that of Messiah– but he confers, on the notions of Messiah and salvation, a fullness which could not have been imagined in advance.” (Pontifical Biblical Commission)

If we ask what messianic expectation of his time Jesus comes closest to, we might find it in the hope for a prophetic messiah like Elijah.

Like Elijah, he will speak the truth against the powerful, he will help the poor, he will suffer persecution; he will raise the dead.

Our visit on November 8th to Mount Carmel, long associated with Elijah, will help us place Jesus in the context of his time.