13Jun June 13.Wednesday of Week Ten

1 Kings 18:20ff. Elijah alone stays true to the living God. His faith is confirmed by fire from heaven.

Matt. 5:17ff. Jesus has not come to abolish the Old Testament, but to fulfill its meaning.

Ferocity and Reconciliation

As Ecclesiastes wrote, “There is a time for everything.. A time to tear, and a time to sow.. A time of war, and a time of peace.” Scripture lays various possibilities before us, each equally inspired by God: to reconcile and harmonize, or to make a clean break with an intolerable situation. To decide which course to follow at any stage in our lives, we must rely on prayer, on the guidance of the Holy Spirit who has called us to some responsibility whether as parent or teacher, as priest or doctor, as friend or confidant, as counselor or advisor.

Clearly, such a decisive stand as that of the prophet Elijah must be at the end of a long road of other attempts to reconcile and change. That his stance on Mount Carmel was the drastic last resort, becomes clear when he ordered the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal seized, dragged down to brook Kishon, and killed (1 Kings 18:40). We leave such a final day of judgement to God himself, and until it comes, we are to call others to conversion and reconciliation.

While there is something heroic in Elijah’s standing out so fiercely against the mood of his time,  one must hesitate to commend him as an example. His ferocity is hard to reconcile with Our Lord’s teaching about love of enemies, about dialogue and seeking a peaceful solution to disputed issues. Perhaps Elijah himself later came to realise that there must have been a better way to deal with the Baal-worship crisis, when, wandering in the wilderness, he found God in the “small, still voice.”

First Reading:  1 Kings 18:20-39

So Ahab sent to all the Israelites, and assembled the prophets at Mount Carmel. Elijah then came near to all the people, and said, “How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” The people did not answer him a word. Then Elijah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets number four hundred fifty. Let two bulls be given to us; let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it; I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. Then you call on the name of your god and I will call on the name of the Lord; the god who answers by fire is indeed God.” All the people answered, “Well spoken!” Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many; then call on the name of your god, but put no fire to it.” So they took the bull that was given them, prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon, crying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no answer. They limped about the altar that they had made. At noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud! Surely he is a god; either he is meditating, or he has wandered away, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” Then they cried aloud and, as was their custom, they cut themselves with swords and lances until the blood gushed out over them. As midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice, no answer, and no response.

Gospel: Matthew 5:17-19

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.