Here is a homily that I will deliver on Sunday, August 10.
In our reading from the Old Testament this morning, we hear about the prophet Elijah. Elijah is known as the Prophet of Fire, because he prayed for the Lord to send down fire from Heaven in proof that the God of Israel was more powerful than the pagan idols King Ahab and his queen Jezebel were introducing to the people of Israel. Well the Lord did send down the fire and it was quite a spectacle. The people turned on the false pagan prophets, captured them and scripture tells us that Elijah killed all of the false prophets himself. Here was a man of great faith and, if nothing else, action. Well, when we catch up to him in this morning’s reading, he’s pretty well down in the dumps. If fact, he had at one point become so depressed that asked God to take his life, because after all his exploits and all he seemed to have ended up with was a death threat from Queen Jezebel herself. Believe me, Elijah knew that she was a woman of her word who would deliver on the promise. It certainly looked like he had poured his heart into an awful lot of work that had gone for nothing. I don’t imagine that anybody here has ever felt that way, have they? Well, the Lord teaches Elijah a lesson here that will serve us all well to learn. We just heard here how the Lord put on some pretty spectacular, natural effects for Elijah. This was the sort of bombastic stuff that would appeal to the Prophet of Fire, but what Elijah and we learn is that God is not in those terrible earthquakes, wind and fire. God is, in fact, in the last phenomenon of nature: a gentle breeze. That breeze was lost in all the noise and commotion that preceded it. The breeze could only be sensed in the quiet that followed the storm. That was a big lesson for Elijah and I hope that it’s as big a lesson for us. Now I believe that God definitely sends us a little excitement now and again to get our attention, but, if we want to hear Him, we’ve got to slow down and be still and patient and LISTEN. Our own lives are filled with lots of earthquakes, wind and fire in the form of jobs and careers from which we never can seem to escape and seemingly continuous entertainment of one kind or another and twenty-four hour news coverage, whether we need it or not…it goes on and on. Each one of us here could probably name ten totally different things all on our own. We can’t get away from all that permanently…maybe we don’t even want to…but we must take time to hear what God has to say to US…each one of us…personally…just like Elijah.
Sunday Mass is not enough. Each day we have to make sure that we can get some peace and quiet. Most obviously, a good time to do that is when you are saying your prayers…which means don’t rattle through them while your driving to work…or trying to do the laundry. Set aside a special time for your daily prayers…maybe before you go to sleep at night…it’s a good time to listen for Him. It’s just before we surrender ourselves into His care at the end of the day…at the temporary respite from the earthquakes and storms of our lives…listen for Him then. If it’s possible for you to do…the Blessed Sacrament is exposed for adoration every day of the week in our chapel…take an hour of quiet in His presence…and LISTEN.
There’s a verse from James K. Manley’s hymn “Spirit, Spirit of Gentleness” that really helps me to envision the action of that gentle breeze:
You moved on the waters,
you called to the deep,
then you coaxed up the mountains
from the valleys of sleep;
and over the eons
you called to each thing;
“Awake from your slumbers
and rise on your wings.”
With His help, we can rise on our wings. So, as our Lord Jesus said so many times “whoever has ears ought to hear”.