Wednesday, June 08, 2016

How Long Will You Straddle the Issue?

Elijah appealed to all the people and said, "How long will you straddle the issue? If the LORD is God, follow him; if Baal, follow him." The people, however, did not answer him. 1 Kings 18:21

Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:19

PietyKeep me safe, O God; in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, you are my Lord, you are my only good. Psalm 16:1b-2

StudyThe Prophet Elijah asks his people to choose the Lord. Jesus also places a critical question before his audience challenging them to follow Mosaic Law until heaven and earth pass away. The notes in the New American Bible explain that the “passing away” of heaven and earth is not necessarily the end of the world understood, as in much apocalyptic literature, as the dissolution of the existing universe. Rather, the “turning of the ages” comes with the apocalyptic event of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

The NAB notes remind us that the people to whom this gospel is addressed are living in the new and final age, prophesied by Isaiah as the time of “new heavens and a new earth” (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22). Meanwhile, during Jesus’ ministry when the kingdom is already breaking in, his mission remains within the framework of the existing Mosaic Law, though with significant anticipation of the age to come.[i]

Elijah reminds us that our strength is renewed when we place our offering before the altar of the Lord. As he re-enacts what we would call our offertory in the Mass, Elijah has the strength and the faith to trust that the Lord is his hope and will deliver for him in the challenging demonstration with the priests of Baal.

We have such posed for us every day when we decide how to spend our time, talent and treasure. We relive those choices in the Ideal talk every weekend. We make such choices when we decide to pay our taxes, go to work, have children or visit our relatives. We also make a lot of little choices every day as well. We can choose to spend time in front of the idiot box watching cable talking heads blather on and on or we can choose to turn it off and turn on our volunteer spirit. We can choose to spend our money on that new perfume offered at the counter in Fair Oaks Mall or we can deposit those dollars in an envelope and send the money to support a school in a faraway country or places like the poor inner city of Camden, NJ or the rural counties of Appalachia.

We can use our talents for purely selfish pursuits or we can offer those talents to aid a charity, church or another social program. It does not matter if those talents are being the very best accountant, the very best writer, the very best nurse or the very best gardener. We can put whatever talents God has bestowed upon us to good use for others or for selfish uses.

Are we ready to stop straddling the issues and proclaim the Gospel that we are called to witness?


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