Daily Reflection
June 12th, 2002
Tom Purcell
Accounting Department
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1 Kings 18:20-39
Psalms 16:1-2, 4, 5, 8, 11
Matthew 5:17-19

Elijah puts it to us bluntly today - "How long will you straddle the issue?"  He is exasperated with the people of Israel, who go back and forth on which God they should follow.  They agree to one final competition - winner take all!  I can't imagine putting such a bargain before God today, but 2,500 years ago, this evidently was good theology.  Elijah is trying to emphasize for the people God's transcendent power over their lives.

The way Elijah framed the issue - God vs. Baal - is not one that we would see relevant today.  But the issue when generalized is relevant for each of us, every day.  We straddle the issue when we find comfort in possessions and power and physical gratification.  We straddle the issue when we rationalize and justify our actions.  We straddle the issue when we don't seek the will of God in all we do.

As the psalm reminds us, it is God who holds us fast, who keeps us safe, who shows us the path to life.  Jesus shows us the path more clearly, and as he tells us in the Gospel today, whoever obeys will be treated as the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.  But we still must choose.  We still must frame the issue so we understand it.  We still must look at the competition between God and the seduction of the comforts of this life, and answer Elijah's question - "How long will you straddle the issue?"

My prayer for today is to have the insight to see the dilemma in the issue, the courage to make a decision, and the strength to follow my convictions.

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