Memorial of Saint Barnabas, Apostle

Lectionary: 580/364

A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD— but the LORD was not in the wind.
After the wind there was an earthquake— 
but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake there was fire—
but the LORD was not in the fire.
After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this,
Elijah hid his face in his cloak
and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.

Today's first reading from I Kings describes Elijah's encounter with God on Mount Horeb. The Divine Author writes with intentional irony as he describes the heavy wind and earthquake and fire -- in which God did not reside. Elijah was a man of violence; his story crosses the border into the barbaric; and yet he knows -- because he is an obedient prophet schooled in the ways of the Spirit -- to leave the cave only when he hears a "tiny whispering sound." 

What he heard was also challenging: "You're fired. Clean out your desk and hand it over to Elisha." Ever obedient, Elijah disappeared into retirement upon a fiery chariot. (Which sure beats a golden parachute.)

Some years ago one of my brother Franciscans was transferred to another town. A week or two later our senior friar remarked about the quiet, " more bombs bursting in air." I loved the fellow, and still do, but our house was quieter without him. 

In today's gospel Jesus urges his disciples to say yes when you mean yes and no when you mean no. Avoid the uproar. Say whatever must be said once; after judicious listening and prayerful deliberation, once should be enough. 

We are blessed with two day weekends, two days of sabbath rest. At least the idea is there. It is good to practice quiet, to listen to the tiny whispering sound of God's voice that may be heard in silence during these leisure days. 

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.