Greetings on this 10th Sunday in Ordinary time!
The prophet Elijah is presented to us in our first reading this Sunday. In fact, readings about Elijah abound this whole week at every Mass. Who is Elijah?
“Elijah is the ‘father’ of the prophets, ‘the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob’ (Ps 24:6). Elijah's name, ‘The Lord is my God,’ foretells the people's cry in response to his prayer on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:39). St. James refers to Elijah in order to encourage us to pray: ‘The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective’ (James 5:16b-18).” (Catechism 2582)
The prayer of Elijah is “powerful and effective” indeed. Elijah was a prophet but he was also a mortal man learning the ways of the Lord. The catechism teaches us that Elijah learned mercy during his retreat in Wadi Cherith, an isolated brook in the mountains of Jordan south f the Sea of Galilee. Ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and in the evening and he drank from the stream. This is an prefiguring of the Holy Eucharist, where Christ feeds us his flesh (meat), in the form of bread, and where we drink from the streams of living water: “you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” (John 4:10)
After the stream dried up because of a drought, Elijah went to Zarephath on the coast of Lebanon as god had instructed him. He came a across a lowly widow with her only son. He was to stay with her for a time, but she lamented that she was unable to feed him because of the drought and famine. She only had enough flour and oil to feed herself and her son one last meal. “Just now I was collecting a few sticks, to go in and prepare something for myself and my son; when we have eaten it, we shall die.” (1 Kings 17:12)
Elijah reassured her that God will see to it that the flour and oil will not run out. They ate for many days. Again, a sign to us of the superabundance of the Eucharist that is given but is never spent.
After some time the widow’s son died. The widow understandably blamed God and Elijah for the death of her son. Elijah prayed over the boy and stretched himself out over the boy three times and cried out “O LORD, my God, let the life breath return to the body of this child.” (1 Kg 17:21.) The boy breathed and came to life. In this we see a glimpse of the resurrection of Christ from dead. Jesus, the only son of a widow, Mary (since Joseph had died), dies and is brought to life again.
The faith of the widow was confirmed! She praised the Lord that her son had been healed, her prayer of praise is echoed in our responsorial psalm.
In the Gospel, Jesus raised from the dead the son of a widow of Nain, near Nazareth. All are amazed and glorify God.
Like St. Paul in the second reading we are called to reflect on the wonders of God. We are to remember how the Lord has rescued us from eternal death, how he feeds and nourishes us with his Body and Blood, and how raises us up when we are brought low by sin. May our prayer be that of the widow’s: “now I know...that the word of the Lord... is Truth!”
God bless you all,
Father Robert Letona
I need your help! I invite you to consider signing up to assist in the worship of God by being a Lector, an Adult Funeral Server, a Mass server, an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, or a Sacristan.
I will be setting dates throughout the summer for training sessions for each of these important works in our parishes.