This week in the scriptures of Daily Mass we’ve been hearing in the first reading from the Old Testament book of Kings about Elijah the prophet. If you ever questioned God’s providence before; then the incredibly timely messages these scriptures have been speaking to us should be causing us to revisit those doubts. Today Elijah’s confronting the culture of the time – calling them out once and for all – how long will you straddle the issue? If the Lord is God follow Him; if Baal follow him.
The people Elijah was speaking too had been enduing a tremendous drought – the result of their breaking the covenant with God – the people not being faithful by keeping the commandments. In the midst of the drought, rather than repenting, rather than recognizing how sinful, how wayward they had gotten, they went to a pagan “god” – a “god” made up by the people, made in their image (rather than the Lord God who made us in His own image) “Baal” was considered a “storm god”- understood to favor the wealthy and powerful. Sin, greed, injustice are all hallmarks of the followers of baal. So Elijah calls them out – do you want to keep being unfaithful, do you want to keep being wayward, do you want to keep forgetting who you are and whose you are? How long will you straddle the issue – make a decision, who it is you’re following.
In their silence, Elijah in dramatic fashion demonstrates the power, the authority of the Lord God Almighty, which results in the people finally making their decision, their choice to follow the Lord God.
As followers of Jesus, people of the New Covenant, we hear Him speaking in the Gospel that He is the fulfillment of Elijah’s promises… He is the fulfillment of the entirety of the Old Testament and that has been established by His resurrection from the dead. There is no greater “feat” that can be accomplished after that. So we’re not to slaughter bulls, or come up with other tests for Him to accomplish. He has accomplished all that humanity could ever imagine in the resurrection…
But Elijah the prophet’s question is just as timely and important for us to ask – are we following our Trinitarian God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit or have we fallen under the spell of some other “god” of human origin? Particularly after this “drought” we’ve experienced of not being able to attend Mass for months – seeing the havoc of illness and civil strife, Elijah’s questioning of Who or What do we place our faith in is especially timely and important? Is it a religion of some secular ideology that breaks the human family pitting one group against another? Is it a pagan god with it’s own sinful prophets calling us to follow their calls and embrace sinful behaviors and redefining concepts like love or justice manipulating them into new forms and definitions of our own making
Or do we follow the Lord our God – Father Son and Holy Spirit, who has revealed Himself and who in the Eucharist makes himself intimately approachable and accessible to us to embrace and receive… who gives us “the way, the truth and the life” that we are to follow? It’s a question that every believer from Pope all the way down to each and every Catholic in the pew needs to answer and will be held accountable for.