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‘Get up and eat’

‘Get up and eat’

Our return to Ordinary Time means returning also to our weekday cycle of Old Testament readings.  We have recently been adventuring with that great prophet Elijah, who has shown Yahweh’s power through fire and water.  Of course we break from the cycle today and tomorrow as we celebrate the Sacred Heart of Jesus and then the Immaculate Heart of Mary and so by the time we rejoin Elijah on Monday, he has gone from strength to strength and is ready to bring King Ahab and his meddlesome Jezebel to account.

However, Elijah has not gone from strength to strength.  In this ellipsis, we miss Elijah’s great struggle as he runs from Jezebel’s death threats:

‘Yahweh, I have had enough.  Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors’.  Then he lay down and went to sleep.  But an angel touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat’.  He looked round, and there at his head was a scone baked on hot stones, and a jar of water.  He ate and drank and then lay down again.  But the angel of Yahweh came back a second time and touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat, or the journey will be too long for you’.  So he got up and ate and drank, and strengthened by that food he walked for forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.  

‘Get up and eat’  is our instruction too.  We ‘eat’ through encountering God in prayer, in the Scriptures and in the sacraments, most especially, of course in the Eucharist.  I don’t for a minute suppose that we always feel like making the effort and sometimes, no doubt, we’d rather stay asleep, just like Elijah.  But consider this: it was when this great prophet was at his most vulnerable – when he was empty – that he was filled, not just with scones but with the graces of  trust, obedience, courage, strength and endurance that enabled him to go to Horeb where he encountered Yahweh Himself in the gentle breeze.  If we only make a start, God Himself will give us what we need to do His will and lead us to Him.

Let’s let those words of Blessed John Henry Newman’s complete our reflection:

Lead, Kindly Light, amidst th’encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.

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