15Jun 15 June, 2018. Fri. of Week 10

1st Reading: 1 Kings (19:8-16)

Elijah’s encounter with God, at the cave on Mount Horeb

Elijah got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God. At that place he came to a cave, and spent the night there. Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.”

He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

There came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” Then the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram. Also you shall anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as prophet in your place.

Resp. Psalm (Ps 27)

R./: It is your face, O Lord, that I seek

Hear, O Lord, the sound of my call;
have pity on me, and answer me.
Of you my heart speaks; you my glance seeks. (R./)

Your presence, O Lord, I seek.
Hide not your face from me;
do not in anger repel your servant.
You are my helper: cast me not off. (R./)

I believe that I shall see the bounty of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the Lord. (R./)

Gospel: Matthew (5:27-32)

Jesus’ words about chastity, scandal and divorce

Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.

“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

BIBLE

1 Kings 19:9, 11-16 In the Elijah stories this is a favourite of many people on account of one line: “the sound of a gentle breeze.” The NRSV translation is more poetic and more paradoxical: “and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.”

Matthew 5:27-32 We hear today Jesus’ sharpening of the Law, moving from external acts to the internal movement of the heart.

Elijah’s ideals

Today’s Psalm reflects someone sincerely seeking the true God. “It is your face, O Lord, that I seek.” We can identify with that prayer, as we are all to some extent seekers. What we are ultimately searching for is the living God, the origin of our being and our final destiny. St Augustine once, “You have made us for yourself, Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” It is this seeking spirit in all of us that makes us pilgrims in this world, on a journey towards the fully disclosed presence of our God. Elijah was such a seeker as he set out on his journey to the mountain of God, Mount Sinai, or Mount Horeb, as it was also called. When he reached that mountain, he met the divine presence, but not in the way he would have expected.

Elijah’s contemporaries sought God in the wilder phenomena of nature, in fire or storm or earthquake. But to this prophet, God’s presence was revealed in a much more subtle way — in what the reading calls, “the sound of a gentle breeze.” Another modern translation of the phrase expresses it as a “sound of sheer silence.” Such silence is not easy to find in our noisy times with amplifiers blaring, or earphones in constant use. Yet, it is in silence that the Lord can be most clearly heard. And since silence is rare in our culture, we often have to seek it out. To seek silence is, in a way, to seek the Lord, because it is in silence that we become most attuned to his quiet voice.


Keeping pornography at bay

The words of Jesus about perfect chastity may cause some unrest in light of today’s tolerance for free sexual expression, at least in the Western world. Apart from the challenge to couples to stay faithful to their marriage covenant, he warns against unchaste thoughts and desires. Some time back, in a cover story on “The Sex Addiction Epidemic” Newsweek magazine highlighted how internet pornography is rampant and proves addictive to many. People have written about the cybersex compulsion and priests have noted anecdotally how one of the sins most frequently brought to the Sacrament of Penance is seeking out pornography, particularly on the internet.

Various factors might impel one to seek release through internet pornography, such as overwork, loneliness and an immature spirituality. For a workaholic, pornography can seem a risk-free stress-reliever; for a lonely or isolated person it offers the illusion of connecting with others; and for a wavering character it can be the shadow side of a double life, marked by a perfect observance of external rules and rigid, black-and-white thinking. People with other addictive behaviours are at risk of adopting internet pornography as a form of self-medication.

We need to beware of internet pornography. Even priests and religious need the same self-control as others to resist this miasma in our society. Pornography is a symptom of the modern de-emphasis on chastity and responsibility. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (par. 2339) calls chastity a training in human freedom . We guard our dignity when, resisting slavery to our passions, we press on with freely choosing what is good. Later it says: “The baptized must continue to struggle against concupiscence of the flesh and disordered desires.” (2520)

One Response

  1. Kevin Walters

    “I have been ‘very zealous’ for the Lord, the God of hosts”

    A Personal understanding of 1 Kings 19:11-12
    A wind there was (of Pride), rude and boisterous, that shook the mountains (Heavens) and broke the rocks (Holy precepts) in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not to be found in the wind (of my bluster).
    Nor in the storm (High expectations of life) and earthquake (Of self-made foundations/delusions) leading to the Fire (of suffering) and after the fire, the whisper of a gentle (Uplifting) breeze

    “Fear not I am with you always”

    kevin your brother
    In Christ


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