Lord, as I experience this day, please fill my heart with gratitude. You know the longings of my heart and the trials that I face. Still you have given me so much. Sharpen my senses so I don’t overlook the simply joys that weave through my day. Most importantly, let me rest in the assurance that you will accompany me, and you will be forever faithful.
—The Jesuit Prayer TeamPlease share the Good Word with your friends!
While St. Ignatius did not want his religious order, the Jesuits, to gather during the hours of the day to chant psalms the way Benedictines do, he appreciated music. He especially appreciated how music could be an instrument for teaching as well as for giving glory to God. He probably would have been grateful for St. Ephrem who lived about twelve centuries before him and who was known as “The Harp of the Holy Spirit.” At the time various heretical sects used music with catchy tunes and lyrics to spread their errors. St. Ephrem took their method and used it to transmit sound teaching.
Today’s first reading shows a similar battle. It’s a gripping story of one prophet’s fight against 450 prophets of the false god Baal. In the end sound doctrine triumphed as the “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel” revealed Himself in fire. One could see in the fire that came down from heaven the Holy Spirit who purifies people and their beliefs and destroys all that is of the kingdom of darkness.
Images of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, whom we will honor in a special way this Friday, show His Heart on fire. It’s the fire of love which purifies and even destroys all that is not worthy of humanity. God loves us too much to allow us to remain in error or sin. The following are the translated lyrics from one of St. Ephrem’s songs “In Christ’s Heart.”
The solder’s lance, pierced your side/ And the sufferings that you underwent for my sake / Are continually telling me / “See how I loved you”.
You have brought me / To the house of my Father / The house from which I ran away. / You have prayed for me, / You have given me wine to drink, / And poured oil on my wounds. / You have broken bread for me.
And now joyfully / I live like a bride. / In the room your love prepared.
—Fr. James Kubicki, S.J.Please share the Good Word with your friends!
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.Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come closer to me”; and all the people came closer to him. First he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down;Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord came, saying, “Israel shall be your name”;with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord. Then he made a trench around the altar, large enough to contain two measures of seed.Next he put the wood in order, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood. He said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.”Then he said, “Do it a second time”; and they did it a second time. Again he said, “Do it a third time”; and they did it a third time,so that the water ran all around the altar, and filled the trench also with water.
At the time of the offering of the oblation, the prophet Elijah came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your bidding.Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.”Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, and the dust, and even licked up the water that was in the trench.When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord indeed is God; the Lord indeed is God.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations/ ).
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