Elisha is so genuine and sincere in the first reading. His response when Elijah asked him “ . . whatever I may do for you . . .” was both affirming and inspiring. Elisha was not interested in anything material, asking instead for a “double portion of your spirit.” In asking for his spirit Elisha was to be a great prophet and serve the Lord, as did Elijah; the idea of a double portion not only strengthens him but also confirms his place as a rightful heir – the custom at the time being the first son or true heir received double of what the others would inherit. How often have I looked at others – serene and comforted in their faith – and asked to be more like them? To have the “gift” they display . . . Here Elisha asks for that strength, that connection and legitimacy with the Lord. The symbol of the mantle as a manifestation of power and faith is a significant image left behind by Elijah yet still miraculous in the hands of Elisha who, indeed, had received the gift of the spirit. Both Elijah and Elisha in the manner of Moses were able to part the Jordon – more symbolism of their faithful charge. The importance of a mentor-mentee relationship is another strong image here.
As I reflect on the psalm, I am reminded that my very being, the absolute core of who I am relies upon my relationship with God. I cannot imagine how anyone can survive let alone thrive without such a relationship. What provides that very essence of comfort? Certainly there are no things that truly can provide that. There may be a momentary sense of relief but nothing with continued sustainment. Sometimes there are people that offer such comfort to us. I believe such people and actions are manifestation of God’s love for us. These people and events are blessings in our lives – put there by God at just the right moment. Have you had that friend that called at just the right time? Heard lyrics of a song when that was exactly what you needed to hear? Felt the healing hand of God through a rainbow, a flower or other people? Just recently, my stepdaughter was married. As I left the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding, it was clear to me that many relationships had been mended and new bonds formed. I pulled onto the highway and turned the radio on – the first words were my affirmation: “I have seen the healing hand of God . . .” Again, I will proclaim there are no coincidences with God, with the people and things that touch our lives. They are living proof of the love God shares with us and His plans for us. The deep, abiding affection of a loving parent – a source of solace and comfort.
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