Wednesday 8 June 2022 Week 10 in Ordinary Time
1 Kings 18:20-39
Ahab called all Israel together and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. Elijah stepped out in front of all the people. ‘How long’ he said ‘do you mean to hobble first on one leg then on the other? If the Lord is God, follow him; if Baal, follow him.’ But the people never said a word. Elijah then said to them, ‘I, I alone, am left as a prophet of the Lord, while the prophets of Baal are four hundred and fifty. Let two bulls be given us; let them choose one for themselves, dismember it and lay it on the wood, but not set fire to it. I in my turn will prepare the other bull, but not set fire to it. You must call on the name of your god, and I shall call on the name of mine; the god who answers with fire, is God indeed.’ The people all answered, ‘Agreed!’ Elijah then said to the prophets of Baal, ‘Choose one bull and begin, for there are more of you. Call on the name of your god but light no fire.’ They took the bull and prepared it, and from morning to midday they called on the name of Baal. ‘O Baal, answer us!’ they cried, but there was no voice, no answer, as they performed their hobbling dance round the altar they had made. Midday came, and Elijah mocked them. ‘Call louder,’ he said ‘for he is a god: he is preoccupied or he is busy, or he has gone on a journey; perhaps he is asleep and will wake up.’ So they shouted louder and gashed themselves, as their custom was, with swords and spears until the blood flowed down them. Midday passed, and they ranted on until the time the offering is presented; but there was no voice, no answer, no attention given to them.
Then Elijah said to all the people, ‘Come closer to me’, and all the people came closer to him. He repaired the altar of the Lord which had been broken down. Elijah took twelve stones, corresponding to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, ‘Israel shall be your name’, and built an altar in the name of the Lord. Round the altar he dug a trench of a size to hold two measures of seed. He then arranged the wood, dismembered the bull, and laid it on the wood. Then he said, ‘Fill four jars with water and pour it on the holocaust and on the wood’; this they did. He said, ‘Do it a second time’; they did it a second time. He said, ‘Do it a third time’; they did it a third time. The water flowed round the altar and the trench itself was full of water. At the time when the offering is presented, Elijah the prophet stepped forward. ‘O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel,’ he said ‘let them know today that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, that I have done all these things at your command. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so that this people may know that you, the Lord, are God and are winning back their hearts.’
Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the holocaust and wood and licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this they fell on their faces. ‘The Lord is God,’ they cried, ‘the Lord is God.’
Psalm 15 Save me, Lord, I take refuge in you. Proteggimi, o Dio: in te mi rifugio.
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete them. I tell you solemnly, till heaven and earth disappear, not one dot, not one little stroke, shall disappear from the Law until its purpose is achieved. Therefore, the man who infringes even one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be considered the least in the kingdom of heaven; but the man who keeps them and teaches them will be considered great in the kingdom of heaven.’
+ Dal Vangelo secondo Matteo
In quel tempo, Gesù disse ai suoi discepoli: «Non crediate che io sia venuto ad abolire la Legge o i Profeti; non sono venuto ad abolire, ma a dare pieno compimento. In verità io vi dico: finché non siano passati il cielo e la terra, non passerà un solo iota o un solo trattino della Legge, senza che tutto sia avvenuto. Chi dunque trasgredirà uno solo di questi minimi precetti e insegnerà agli altri a fare altrettanto, sarà considerato minimo nel regno dei cieli. Chi invece li osserverà e li insegnerà, sarà considerato grande nel regno dei cieli».
Parola del Signore
I was at the Dubai Airport last month and saw a large group of orthodox Jews reciting morning prayers. The men had blue fringes on their shirts and wound a long leather strap from a phylactery on the left upper arm twelves times down to the palm of their hands. Another phylactery was fitted upon their forehead. With obvious devotion they began to recite the Shema. The Shema is comprised of texts from Deuteronomy and Numbers. It begins: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord, our God, is Lord alone. You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. You shall keep these things that I command you today in your heart. Teach them to your children. You shall talk of them when you are sitting in your home, and when you are walking along the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up.” Jesus would have prayed the Shema and known its importance to his people. For Jesus it not a text but a way of life. St. John’s first letter says, “For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome” (1John 5:3). To keep God’s commandments means that we truly love him through our deeds. Love is not only a feeling; it finds fulfilment in giving one’s life for another, as Jesus did. This does not require acts of martyrdom, only acts of charity. Love is the New Testament: which Jesus came to fulfill by his love for his Abba. Jesus is the living, breathing law of love. According to Romans 13, the laws of God “are all summed up in this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ Love cannot result in any harm to the neighbour; therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law”. Let us therefore be lovers of the law of love, by bearing witness to that love in our daily charity.
Il mese scorso mi trovavo all’aeroporto di Dubai e ho visto un folto gruppo di ebrei ortodossi recitare le preghiere del mattino. Gli uomini avevano frange blu sulle camicie e avvolgevano una lunga cinghia di cuoio da un filatterio sul braccio superiore sinistro per dodici volte fino al palmo della mano. Un altro filatterio era applicato sulla fronte. Con evidente devozione hanno iniziato a recitare lo Shema. Lo Shema è composto da testi tratti dal Deuteronomio e dai Numeri. Inizia con: “Ascolta, o Israele, il Signore, nostro Dio, è il solo Signore. Amerai il Signore, tuo Dio, con tutto il tuo cuore, con tutta la tua anima e con tutte le tue forze. Conserverai nel tuo cuore queste cose che oggi ti comando. Insegnatele ai vostri figli. Ne parlerai quando sarai seduto in casa tua, quando camminerai per la strada, quando ti coricherai e quando ti alzerai”. Gesù avrebbe pregato lo Shema e ne conosceva l’importanza per il suo popolo. Per Gesù non era un testo, ma uno stile di vita. La prima lettera di San Giovanni dice: “L’amore di Dio è questo: osservare i suoi comandamenti. E i suoi comandamenti non sono gravosi” (1 Giovanni 5:3). Osservare i comandamenti di Dio significa amarlo veramente attraverso le nostre azioni. L’amore non è solo un sentimento; trova il suo compimento nel dare la vita per l’altro, come ha fatto Gesù. Questo non richiede atti di martirio, ma solo atti di carità. L’amore è il Nuovo Testamento, che Gesù è venuto a realizzare con l’amore per il suo Abbà. Gesù è la legge vivente dell’amore. Secondo Romani 13, le leggi di Dio “si riassumono tutte in questo: ‘Amerai il tuo prossimo come te stesso’. L’amore non può provocare alcun danno al prossimo; perciò l’amore è il compimento della legge”. Siamo dunque amanti della legge dell’amore, testimoniando questo amore nella nostra carità quotidiana.