What are you doing here?

Friday 10 June 2022 Week 10 in Ordinary Time

1 Kings 19:9,11-16

When Elijah reached Horeb, the mountain of God, he went into the cave and spent the night in it. Then he was told, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord.’ Then the Lord himself went by. There came a mighty wind, so strong it tore the mountains and shattered the rocks before the Lord. But the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind came an earthquake. But the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire. But the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there came the sound of a gentle breeze. And when Elijah heard this, he covered his face with his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then a voice came to him, which said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ He replied, ‘I am filled with jealous zeal for the Lord of Hosts, because the sons of Israel have deserted you, broken down your altars and put your prophets to the sword. I am the only one left and they want to kill me.’  ‘Go,’ the Lord said, ‘go back by the same way to the wilderness of Damascus. You are to go and anoint Hazael as king of Aram. You are to anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king of Israel, and to anoint Elisha son of Shaphat, of Abel Meholah, as prophet to succeed you.’

Psalm 26              It is your face, O Lord, that I seek.

Matthew 5:27-32

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You have learnt how it was said: You must not commit adultery. But I say this to you: if a man looks at a woman lustfully, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye should cause you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; for it will do you less harm to lose one part of you than to have your whole body thrown into hell. And if your right hand should cause you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; for it will do you less harm to lose one part of you than to have your whole body go to hell.  ‘It has also been said: Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a writ of dismissal. But I say this to you: everyone who divorces his wife, except for the case of fornication, makes her an adulteress; and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.’


Elijah stands at the entrance to the cave and a voice comes to him that says, “what are you doing here, Elijah?”. This is a good question. “what are you doing here?”  As I stayed with this image, I found myself hearing God asking me the same question, “what are you doing you here?”.  It was a challenge as if I was in the wrong place. Elijah says he is filled with zeal for the Lord. He shares his pain when he sees what is done against God, and particularly the killing of the prophets and the threat to his own life.  We recall that Elijah challenged the priests of Baal, and hid in the cave from the wrath of Jezebel. 

In spirituality we often hear of the cave of the heart, but in this passage, we read of the cave of refuge.  As I reflected further, I heard God asking me, “what cave are you in?”.  We all have different caves that we go to for safety, for comfort, to avoid difficult situations. What caves do you have?

Perhaps some of the examples of sin we read about in the Gospel may be considered such places of refuge.  Sin is often an avoidance of facing what needs to be healed and confronted.

God calls Elijah out of the cave and to go back the same way he came. God instructs him to anoint new leaders, and to anoint new prophet, Elisha, thus addressing the pain and fear that concerns Elijah.  Let us also be open to the God who calls to us in our pain and fear, and calls us out to confront injustice and wrongdoing using the zeal we have for the Lord.

Riflessione (italiano):

Elia si trova all’ingresso della grotta e una voce gli dice: “Cosa fai qui, Elia?”. Questa è una buona domanda. “Cosa ci fai qui?”  Rimanendo con questa immagine, mi sono ritrovato a sentire Dio che mi poneva la stessa domanda: “Cosa fai qui?”.  Era una sfida, come se fossi nel posto sbagliato. Elia dice di essere pieno di zelo per il Signore. Condivide il suo dolore quando vede ciò che viene fatto contro Dio, in particolare l’uccisione dei profeti e la minaccia alla sua stessa vita.  Ricordiamo che Elia sfidò i sacerdoti di Baal e si nascose nella grotta dall’ira di Gezabele. 

Nella spiritualità sentiamo spesso parlare della grotta del cuore, ma in questo brano leggiamo della grotta del rifugio.  Riflettendo ulteriormente, ho sentito Dio che mi chiedeva: “In quale grotta ti trovi?”.  Tutti noi abbiamo diverse caverne in cui andiamo per sicurezza, per conforto, per evitare situazioni difficili. Quali caverne hai tu?

Forse alcuni degli esempi di peccato di cui abbiamo letto nel Vangelo possono essere considerati luoghi di rifugio.  Il peccato è spesso un evitare di affrontare ciò che deve essere curato e affrontato.

Dio chiama Elia a uscire dalla grotta e a tornare indietro per la stessa strada da cui era venuto. Dio gli ordina di ungere nuovi capi e di ungere un nuovo profeta, Eliseo, affrontando così il dolore e la paura che preoccupano Elia.  Apriamoci anche noi al Dio che ci chiama nel nostro dolore e nella nostra paura e ci chiama ad affrontare l’ingiustizia e le azioni sbagliate usando lo zelo che abbiamo per il Signore.