Nineteenth Sunday Ordinary

Jezebel, the pagan wife of King Ahab, threatened to kill the prophet Elijah after Elijah ordered the slaughter of the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah who ate at Jezebel’s table. (cf.1 Kgs 18:19, 40)  Elijah fled for his life.  He seemed ready to give up on his life until the Lord intervened and provided him with food and drink to continue his life and his service of the Lord.  Elijah was the last prophet standing.  All the other prophets of the Lord had been slain through the treachery of Jezebel. (cf. 1 Kgs 19:10, 14)  Strengthened by the food and drink, Elijah walked to Horeb, the mountain of God.  When he ascended the mountain, he found shelter in a cave.  First, the word of the Lord came to him and asked: “Why are you here, Elijah?” (cf. 1 Kgs 19:9)  Then the Lord passed by Elijah and asked the same question: “Why are you here, Elijah?”  (cf. 1 Kgs 19:13)  The scripture passage seems strange unless you know the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.  Three Persons, one God.  Though we know the doctrine, we can’t fully grasp it with our minds or our senses.  Elijah knew it was the Lord when he experienced “a light silent sound.” (cf. 1 Kgs 19:12)  The Lord sent Elijah back.  When Elijah’s mission was complete, the Lord took Elijah up into heaven. (cf. 2 Kgs 2:11)  The Lord had appeared to Moses and the Israelites on the same mountain (“Horeb” is an alternate name for “Sinai”).  Both Moses and Elijah saw God and receive a commission on His holy mountain.  Last Friday, the Church celebrated the feast of the Transfiguration.  Moses and Elijah were both seen speaking with Jesus by the Apostles Peter, James, and John.  Jesus manifested this vision to strengthen their faith and increase their understanding.  Full understanding and mature faith did not come until after Jesus died, rose from the dead, and sent down His Holy Spirit upon them and sent them out to the world to proclaim the Good News of salvation.

Why are you here?  In the principle and foundation of the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola, he says first that “Human beings are created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by means of doing this to save our souls.”  All other things in the created world are here to use in achieving this purpose.  We ought to desire and choose what is most conducive to our end.  Our end is in God.  We are created by and for God, not for ourselves.   We are not our true selves until we live in God and God lives in us.  Our ultimate desire in making the Spiritual Exercises is to love as God loves us.  God does not want to have us like a possession.  God desires to receive us as His children.  Do we desire to receive Him?  Do we believe in Him?  He is our heavenly Father.  He offers Himself to us through His Son in the Eucharist.  When we choose freely to receive Him, then He will receive us.  We become one with Him. “So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Cor 5:17)  We have a choice.  God gave us the gift of reason and free will.  Jezebel set her own table and ate her own food.  If you know the rest of Jezebel’s story in scripture, then you know how she ended.  Not well.  When we eat from the Lord’s table, we will be able to make our pilgrim journey up His holy mountain and meet him in the light, silent sound of His peace and His everlasting life.  Saint Paul implored members of the Church to: “be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love,

as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us

as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.” (Eph 5:1-2)

“For many, as I have often told you and now tell you even in tears, conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction. Their God is their stomach; their glory is in their “shame.” Their minds are occupied with earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Phil 3:18-20)  Do you live to eat, or do you eat to live?