1 Kings 18:20-39; Matthew 5:17-19
“Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope”
“Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope”, is the psalm response in today’s scripture. It’s a familiar sung refrain that we use in our parish…a calming melody that is comforting as I reflected on today’s scripture.
In the Gospel of the day, Jesus reminds his followers that he has not come to abolish the teachings of the prophets and God’s commandments, but to fulfill them. This passage is preceded by the Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus later continues with speaking about the fullness of following the commandments…not the letter, but the whole spirit of the command.
Imagine sitting in the crowd as Jesus encourages everyone to live the commandments to the fullest as well as hearing him proclaim that he as come to fulfill the law. How baffling this may have seemed… Was Jesus actually teaching that one is to love one’s enemies, do good to those who persecute, etc? What can he really mean? Jesus taught that God’s fullness of time will come when all things have taken place. What Jesus is asking is for trust in what he has to teach… What helped the people to believe or to turn away? Did they turn to their God in prayer, to ponder what meaning might be in Jesus’ teachings?
Simple logical discussions would not lead the people to the truths that Jesus was offering to them. They would certainly need to invite God into their reflections.
In the first reading, Elijah is attempting to regain the people’s belief in God by turning from their belief in Baal. In a sort of duel of the prophets, Elijah challenges the prophets of Baal to call on their god to start a fire on their offerings. When Baal does not answer, Elijah then calls on the God of Israel to start a fire on the offerings – and it happens…and the people again believed and followed the God of Israel.
The theme of trusting in God runs through today’s scriptures.
How do I open in a trusting manner to the God Spirit in my midst? So often, I find that as I scurry through my ‘to do’ lists or attempt to struggle with a challenge that seems overwhelming, I attempt to gather my strengths and abilities to overcome these obstacles. It is only later that I may realize that I relied more on my capabilities rather than inviting God into the process…trying to handle my mini and/or major crises alone. As a ‘do-er’ person, I often move into action before stepping back to realize that God’s presence is ever-ready to assist me in whatever I must face.
By Cathy Weiss Pedersen