Daily Readings Reflection for 6/16/10

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Reflection on Today’s Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM

Today’s Readings

Scripture: June 16. Lectionary # 367.  II Kings 2:1.6-14. Psalm
31:20.21.24.  Matthew 6:1-6,16-18.

We come to the end of the Elijah cycle with the transference of his cloak
as a symbol that Elisha now will be the prophet for Israel.  Elijah was the
fighter prophet; Elisha is more the adviser, statesman, and man of action.
This description of Elijah in the Encyclopedia of the Jewish Religion is
worthy of our attention: “The figure of Elijah has been one of the most
popular in Jewish tradtion, though bearing a very different character from
the biblical portrait.  The fact that he did not die but was borne to
heaven in a chariot of fire, and the prophecy of Malach (3:23) i which he
appears as the precursor of the Messiah who will “turn the hearts of the
fathers unto the children and the hearts of the children unto their
fathers” combined to produce the image of the ever-present prophet,
wandering incognito over the earth, sometimes in the garb of a nomad, to
aid in moments of distress and danger, appearing to mystics and scholars to
teach them hidden truths, and acting as celestial messenger. …He is
thought to be present at every circumcision and is asssociated with the
Seder celebration of the Passover night, where the custom of the “fifth
cup” has givne rise to the popular belief in his invisible
presence.” (p.126-127).

We see God’s providential care for Israel through Elijah and then through
Elisha who asks for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit.  God never leaves
his people alone. There is always an Elijah or Elisha working among them as
salvation continues on despite the world’s lack of attention to God’s role
in history.  In the Catholic Church the presence of the prophetic is
carried on especially through the charisms of the religious orders and
congregations. Each has a special charism and a ministry in tune with the
“signs of the times.”  Like Elijah and his successor, John the Baptist,
these men and women religious look at things in the light of the rule of
God and God’s Messiah.

Jesus takes us back to the three essentials of religion: prayer, fasting,
almsgiving.  These are three of the five pillars of Islam; Jesus speaks of
them as essential to his Jewishness, and the Church takes them up and
associates them especially with the season of Lent.  Fridays in Lent are
fast days because of the death of Jesus on that day.  In Judaism the Day of
Atonement (Yom Kippur) is the day on which the Jews fast from all foods and
even water.  In Matthew’s Gospel prayer is important, too. Here are some of
the verses connected with prayer: Matthew 7:7-11; 9:37-38; 15:21-28;
17:14-20; 18:18-20; 21:18-22; 26:36-46 and 27:46.  The Lord’s prayer is a
community prayer to the Father and it contains all that is essential to the
above citations.
Amen.

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