MEET & GREET: Nov. 11
This month’s meet and greet is sponsored by the Lectors and Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers. Please join us for fellowship after each of the Masses on November 11th with food and drink.
UPDATE ON BUILDINGS:
Although work started to increase over the past few weeks, our project was being held back slightly waiting for additional permits. As of late last week’s drawings were approved and additional permits are in place. Work pace should begin to increase further. Mock-ups and samples continue to be installed. These allow Landmarks to sign off on all materials. Masonry work is in progress at multiple areas throughout the building. It is primarily cutting and preparing of the brick joints which will start to be filled with new mortar soon. Window repair is in progress. The wood frame of the windows has been fully surveyed and the repair and replacement of that wood is ongoing. Paint for deteriorated areas of stonework is being sampled now and waiting for the architect’s approval before moving ahead. It has been decided that the gutter condition is worse than originally thought and will need to be replaced. This work will continue into the winter. As the colder weather approaches exterior masonry work will have to stop but roof work, window repair, and other miscellaneous work will continue through the winter to help move the project along as quickly as possible.
Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Nov. 11, 2018
1 Kings 17:10–16
In many ways the books of Kings (1 and 2) are footnotes to a passage we read in the Book of Deuteronomy last week about the consequences of obeying or disobeying the commandments:
Hear then, Israel, and be careful to observe them, that you may grow and prosper the more, in keeping with the promise of the LORD, the God of your fathers, to give you a land flowing with milk and honey. Deuteronomy 6:3
When the people, especially the king, obeyed God they prospered; when they did not, they faltered. Obedience most especially means following the first commandment and have no other god before the Lord. This pattern is often referred to as Deuteronomic history.
If its authors found the pattern clear, they did not impose it mechanically and were not without art. The falling away from the law of God began with King Solomon himself. He married women from other countries and allowed them to worship their own Gods. Eventually he himself joined them and by the time of his death around 931 BC the kingdom was divided between the Northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judea. The northern kingdom was richer and more unstable. The kings increasingly abandoning the worship of the Lord. This reaches the crisis point with King Ahab who married Jezebel a pagan princess and and also made a sacred pole. He did more to anger the LORD, the God of Israel, than any of the kings of Israel before him. 1 Kings 16:33
Then Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab: “As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, during these years there shall be no dew or rain except at my word.” 1 Kings 17:1
Elijah’s name means “Yahweh is my God” and he directly challenges the authority of Ahab to change the worship of the people. It will take the drought time to work and Elijah will need to hide. This is where today’s reading takes up the story as God tells him:
9 “Move on to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have designated a widow there to provide for you.” 10 He left and went to Zarephath. As he arrived at the entrance of the city, a widow was gathering sticks there; he called out to her, “Please bring me a small cupful of water to drink.” 1 Kings 17:9–10
Zarephath is outside of the lands ruled by Ahab, but the drought extends there as well. When Elijah asks her for a meal, she responds:
12 “As the LORD, your God, lives,” she answered, “I have nothing baked; there is only a handful of flour in my jar and a little oil in my jug. Just now I was collecting a couple of sticks, to go in and prepare something for myself and my son; when we have eaten it, we shall die.” 1 Kings 17:12
It is clear to Elijah that it will be by the power of God alone that he will be saved:
13 “Do not be afraid,” Elijah said to her. “Go and do as you propose. But first make me a little cake and bring it to me. Then you can prepare something for yourself and your son. 14 For the LORD, the God of Israel, says, ‘The jar of flour shall not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, until the day when the LORD sends rain upon the earth.’” 1 Kings 17:13–14
They were able to live on this for over a year. This is very much within the pattern of Deuteronomic history. When evil is seemingly about to triumph, God will send a great prophet to overcome it. The key confrontation between Ahab and Elijah is several chapters later on Mount Carmel when Elijah will challenge all the prophets of Baal to a contest and eventually destroy them. It will be the clearest sign of God’s care for Elijah and use of him.
Yet there is a further clarification of how God enters into the life of his people. This too reflects last week’s reading from Deuteronomy and it is the incident immediately after what we read today.
17 Some time later the son of the mistress of the house fell sick, and his sickness grew more severe until he stopped breathing. 18 So she said to Elijah, “Why have you done this to me, O man of God? Have you come to me to call attention to my guilt and to kill my son?”1 Kings 17:17–18
She felt that holiness was dangerous. It revealed one’s own sin and opened one up to divine wrath. Holiness does reveal sins but for the Jews this allowed God to show his mercy, power and forgiveness. The Jews had heard the voice of God from the mountain and experienced his glory and majesty and thought themselves in deadly peril: If we hear the voice of the LORD, our God, any more, we shall die. Deuteronomy 5:25
God does not tell them that they are being foolish ,but that their words are “well said”. (Deuteronomy 5:29). Contact with the holy, especially with the divine, is dangerous and this should always be kept in mind. Would that they might always be of such a mind, to fear me and to keep all my commandments! Deuteronomy 5:28
God has an extensive repertoire of ways to speak to us, and we can benefit from any means He decides to use. Look at the two we have examined today. We would be diminished if we lacked either the comforting and protecting God whose care saved Elijah, the Widow and her Son or the terror of the God whose holiness reveals our sins. Every way that God reveals Himself shows his love and joins us to him.
This is an important lesson for us as individuals and as a Church. The Bishops of the United States will come together next week for a regular meeting which will need to be extraordinarily focused on the sex abuse crisis and the institutional dynamics which fostered it. If they do not experience the terror at the revelation of God’s Holiness, then no one in the Church will be able to experience his comfort.