Today’s readings blend seeking the Lord and solace in the Lord with some very clear directives. While I certainly could relate to the first two readings and connect with a variety of times when I sought similar solace, the gospel was, indeed, the little voice getting my attention.
When we read the first reading, we can feel the angst of Elijah. He did everything he was supposed to do and was “most zealous for the LORD.” Yet, his people were on the verge of letting him down – they were not following the rules and would not even offer him protection. He retreated to a sacred place to find the Lord. How often do we do that, seek our own special place where we can feel the presence of God? For some it may be the quiet and peace of a great cathedral, for others, the mountains or the ocean, and even the still prairie night or special garden. God certainly is present in them all (of course, in the hustle bustle of our daily lives as well). We need to find wherever it is to hear that inner voice. While we are not prophets as Elijah is, God still speaks to us if we only listen.
The compassion and love of this mighty God is evident, “here’s the plan” is what Elijah is offered: travel in the safety of the desert, anoint these people kings – taking care of both friend and foe and while you are at, here’s your successor. In some ways, it appears a softer side of God than we sometimes see in the Old Testament. He hears the plight of Elijah and offers solutions. The psalm continues that plea to the Lord, hear me, pity me, answer me. We long as the singer of the psalm to see the face of the Lord. Yet, often - too often - we do not see or hear when God answers. Like Elijah we may be looking for the answers in the tempest yet it comes in that small inner voice. And, the face we seek may be in the face of a neighbor or even a foe as we are challenged in our daily lives. We can only “see the bounty of the LORD in the land of the living” if our eyes are always open and our hearts ready. The bounty and peace we seek may be ever present if we only look with the right eyes. The true treasures and answers may be hidden in plain view.
The gospel is the one that spoke to me. As I read this I thought back to other reflection readings, surely I had this before or something similar. Hmmm. . . why am I seeing this again? I believe that the assignments for readings are not just about sharing with all of you. Each one obviously has a message for me to heed – there are no coincidences with God. So, as I have been contemplating the completion of my annulment papers, it was clear to me what this message meant for me. It is time to finish. In the broader sense, this reading helps us to put our human frailties into perspective. It is essential that we take an honest look into our own behavior and what is necessary to do to change it. In another reflection I mentioned the “fearless and moral inventory” that is essential in 12-step programs and I once again see it in all our lives. We do not have to have identified an addiction in our lives, to need that looking at ourselves. I am always amazed as I hear those in such programs talk about the “steps” – these are steps for all of us to follow.
This past Sunday we celebrated the coming of the Holy Spirit. What a gift!! What graces are bestowed upon us . . . but are we ready for them. Have we sought the Lord with open eyes and hearts? Do we seek our own Horeb to find comfort and answers? Have we heard the inner voice or still waited in the thunder and tempest for a sign? Have we looked fearlessly at ourselves and amended those areas in our lives that are undesirable?
“I believe that I shall see the
bounty of the LORD in the land of the living.
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