Like a fire there appeared the prophet Elijah
whose words were as a flaming furnace.
Their staff of bread he shattered,
in his zeal he reduced them to straits;
By the Lord’s word he shut up the heavens
and three times brought down fire.
How awesome are you, Elijah, in your wondrous deeds!
Whose glory is equal to yours?
You brought a dead man back to life
from the nether world, by the will of the LORD.
You sent kings down to destruction,
and easily broke their power into pieces.
You brought down nobles, from their beds of sickness.
You heard threats at Sinai,
at Horeb avenging judgments.
You anointed kings who should inflict vengeance,
and a prophet as your successor.
You were taken aloft in a whirlwind of fire,
in a chariot with fiery horses.
You were destined, it is written, in time to come
to put an end to wrath before the day of the LORD,
To turn back the hearts of fathers toward their sons,
and to re-establish the tribes of Jacob.
Blessed is he who shall have seen you
And who falls asleep in your friendship.
For we live only in our life,
but after death our name will not be such.
O Elijah, enveloped in the whirlwind!
Then Elisha, filled with the twofold portion of his spirit,
wrought many marvels by his mere word.
During his lifetime he feared no one,
nor was any man able to intimidate his will.
Nothing was beyond his power;
beneath him flesh was brought back into life.
In life he performed wonders,
and after death, marvelous deeds.
Jesus said to his disciples:
“In praying, do not babble like the pagans,
who think that they will be heard because of their many words.
Do not be like them.
Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
“This is how you are to pray:
“Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.”
“If you forgive others their transgressions,
your heavenly Father will forgive you.
But if you do not forgive others,
neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”
Written by: Fr. Anthony Dinh Minh Tien, O.P.
I. THEME: Learn to know ourselves in our relationship with God.
When we read the Old Testament, we can draw out the pattern of the Israelites’ relationship with God as follows: When they greatly suffered, they prayed to God so that He would have mercy on them. After they were blessed by God, they turned their back to Him to worship idols and to do abominal things before God. Out of His love for them, God sent His prophets to accuse and to call them to turn back to God so that He would have mercy on them. Whoever had repented; God forgave their sins; whoever were stubborn, they died in their sins.
Today readings want to highlight the theme: people must always live good relationships with God and others. If people do so, God shall provide them necessary things and protect them from all dangers of life. In the first reading, the author of the Book of Sirach recalled some wonderful works which the prophets Elijah and Elishah did when they obeyed God in calling the Israelites back to Him. Those who had done according to their instructions, God gave them His blessing; those who had not done so, they were died in their sins. In the Gospel, Jesus taught his disciples a proper way to pray: instead of babbling and asking for blessings, they should concentrate on their duty to pray for “Hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.”
1/ Reading I: Those who do God’s will, shall be blessed by Him.
1.1/ The prophet Elijah’s life and his works: The prophet Elijah was irritated when he saw the king and the Israelites turned their back to God, who blessed and protected them, to worship Baal who did nothing to them. The author briefly mentioned some wonderful works of his life.
(1) To help people to recognize what God has done for them, he commanded the heaven’s door to close so that rain and dew shall not come down. If there is no rain, there shall be no harvest. When people were hungry and thirsty, they shall recognize God’s power and love and return to Him.
(2) To help the Israelites to recognize who is the true God, Elijah challenged king Ahab, 450 prophets of Baal and all the people to gather on Mt. Carmel to have a contest. The prophets of Baal failed in asking their god to send out fire from heaven to consume their offering, while God heard of Elijah’s prayer and sent fire from heaven to consume his offering.
(3) Since he was always faithful to God, He was always concern of Elijah’s needs. During the famine, God commanded him, “Leave here, go east and hide in the Wadi Cherith, east of the Jordan. You shall drink of the stream, and I have commanded ravens to feed you there” (1 Kgs 17:3-4). And when this stream was dried up, God said to him, “Move on to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have designated a widow there to provide for you” (1 Kgs 17:9). In brief, God always hears his prayer. Lastly, when he completed his mission, God doesn’t let him to die but he were taken aloft in a whirlwind, in a chariot with fiery horses and hidden in an unknown place.
The Jewish tradition believes that Elijah shall come back to prepare for the Messiah’s coming. His duty is “to put an end to wrath before the day of the LORD, to turn back the hearts of fathers toward their sons, and to reestablish the tribes of Jacob.” When Jesus’ disciples asked Jesus about the Elijah’s coming, Jesus gave them a hint that John Baptist is the prophet Elijah (Mt 11:14; Mk 9:13).
1.2/ The prophet Elijah’s life and his works: Elishah determined to followed Elijah when the prophet Elijah cast his coat on him. He slaughtered the calves and used the yoke as firewood for his offering. Realizing many difficulties in his prophetic mission, he asked Elijah, his master, to grant him a double portion of his spirit. When Elijah was taken aloft in a whirlwind, Elishah saw it and was given Elijah’s spirit.
The author briefly described of Elishah’s power and life: “During his lifetime he feared no one, nor was any man able to intimidate his will. Nothing was beyond his power; beneath him flesh was brought back into life. In life he performed wonders, and after death, marvelous deeds.”
2/ Gospel: “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
2.1/ First and above all, we must concern about what belong to God: In our relationship with each other, we don’t like those who abuse our good heart by asking for favors all the time. A Vietnamese adage advises us for courtesy, “if we receive a gift, we should return a gift.” We can’t keep receiving without giving.
Similarly in our relationship with God, He is the Father and we are His children. Our duties, first of all, are to glorify His name by making it known to many by our preaching and doing good works. Next, we must pray for His kingdom to come by praying for more people to believe in Him everyday. Lastly, we must pray for all people to recognize God’s will and do according to it, at least for ourselves.
2.2/ Then, we must live our life according to God’s will: After concerning God’s works, we can ask Him to look down on our life. There are four petitions which Jesus taught us to pay attention and to ask for.
(1) We should only ask for “our daily food.” Don’t ask to be rich because richness shall make us to live far away from God and to rely only on ourselves.
(2) We should ask, “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” If we have courage to ask for God’s forgiveness, we must also have courage to forgive others who committed sins against us. If we don’t forgive others, God shall not forgive us.
(3) Next, we need to realize that we must fight against three enemies every minute and second which are our own flesh, the world and the devil. All of them are dangerous. If we don’t have God’s grace, we can’t overcome them. Therefore, we should say this prayer often, “Do not subject us to the final test,” especially during temptation.
(4) Lastly, the evils are always near to us and can happen anytime, such as: diseases, war, catastrophes, etc. We need to pray “deliver us from the evil one,” if it is God’s will.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– First of all, we should make an effort for God’s name to be glorified, His kingdom to come, and His wills are done both in heaven and on earth. When we do so, God shall never deny us a thing when we ask him for.
– We should never think that we can ask us for a gift, and then use that gift to satisfy our bad intentions.
– We shouldn’t pray the “Our Father” unconsciously. Let God, in His mighty providence, fill up our needs.