1 Kgs 19:9a, 11-16
The first reading from chapter 19 of the First Book of Kings begins with verse 9. It is a fascinating study of faith in the face of adversity. However, some fill-in background is needed for it to make any sense.
At the beginning of chapter 19 Elijah was about a low as he could go. He had fled Jezebel who had sworn to have him killed. While hiding an angel instructed him to eat. Elijah wanted to die. He had given up hope. He had little faith in God or his mission. He was despondent. He ate only when ordered to do so a second time. He then set off on a journey of 40 days on foot.
The Jewish Study Bible notes that a man traveling alone and used to walking could cover 15 to 25 miles a day. Multiplied by 40 days Elijah walked between 600 and 1000 miles. To put that into perspective, were we to assume he walked 700 miles, he would have traveled from Boston to Cleveland.
What went through his mind as he walked? What goes through our minds during the 40-day 700 mile journeys we are forced to take? During chemotherapy? In the setting of chronic pain? After the death of a loved one? Elijah wanted to give up. But he didn’t. We are confronted with the same choice.
Elijah encountered God at the end of his journey. That he encountered God in a whisper, rather than an earth-shaking event--tornado, earthquake, or fire--is one of the memorable images in the Old Testament. Elijah had to be open to hearing that whisper. He had to be attuned to it. His faith told him it would come. Similarly, we have to be prepared to hear God's voice in a whisper, in a brief moment of quiet that interrupts the noise in our lives.
Faith is not a shield from trauma;
Faith does not protect against pain.
Faith does not evaporate the anguish of grieving
the death of a spouse, a parent, or a child.
Faith does not prevent illness and death.
Faith is an umbrella over all of these. In the midst of our fear, anguish, frustration, and anger, it allows us to hear the voice of God, in the softest of whispers.
It has been almost a month since I posted anything. To say that I've been busy would be a understatement. I've been on the road a lot, writing a lot of homilies for the Masses I'm celebrating at what I now call "The Carmelite Complex" in Framingham. The Convent, Carmel Terrace, and St. Patrick Manor, all have Masses daily, except for the convent which is generally Monday through Friday.
Today is the ninth anniversary of my first Mass. I was ordained nine years ago yesterday along with Andy Downing and Matt Monnig. Saw Matt a few weeks ago. He was actually shocked when I mentioned it had been nine years. I've been enjoying sitting with the memories of that day. On Sunday I will be posting the homily I gave at the Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Mary's Church, my home parish, a week after ordination.
Spent last weekend staying about 1/3 the way up Mt. Equinox in Arlington, VT. Beautiful drive out though I didn't stop to take any photos as I had to be there by a specified time. Once off I-91 in Greenfield, MA it was all two-lane VT country roads for a out 2 hours. The house, a typical 1950's structure had sweeping views of the valley below. As the house had a complete southern exposure sunrise and sunset photos were a tad difficult. Hope to return some time in the winter or late fall.
The view of the Arlington, VT way below the house.
The flagstone deck after I'd had morning coffee and said the office. I was wearing a sweatshirt while drinking the coffee. Wonderfully cool.
These are almost emblematic of the 1950's cocktail culture.
There was a crucifix and two empty candle holders on a parson's table just inside the entrance. A little bit of contortion and nothing but sky and a bit of tree in the background.
Just after returning to the house on Saturday evening as sunset was happening.
The end of sunset.
+Fr. Jack, SJ, MD