Wednesday of the Eleventh Week of Ordinary Time
Today we continue our reading of the Second Book of Kings with the account of Elijah handing over his role as prophet to his disciple, Elisha. The young man is frightened by the thought of his master’s departure. As a flaming chariot suddenly appears and transports Elijah up to heaven, Elisha is left alone and he cries out in terror: “My father, my father!” The words of today’s entrance antiphon could well have been Elisha’s in that moment of uncertainty and loss: “O Lord, hear my voice, for I have called to you; be my help. Do not abandon or forsake me, O God, my Savior!” (Ps 26:7, 9). And those can be our own words whenever we face moments of significant change in our lives: the sudden loss of a loved one, the beginning of a new job, or taking on an unfamiliar responsibility. In those moments of self-doubt or disquiet, we turn to God, our Savior for the strength to move forward. Elisha approaches the Jordan and cries out “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” The waters divide, and he crosses over in safety. Our responsorial refrain voices our assurance of God’s continuing help and protection: “Let your hearts take comfort, all who hope in the Lord” (Ps 31:25). And further in the psalm, we read: “How great is the goodness, O Lord, which you have in store for…those who take refuge in you” (Ps 31:20).
The gospel from St. Matthew addresses the proper attitude toward religious practices. Almsgiving, prayer, and fasting are all to be done in secret rather than in elaborate public display for the sake of appearance. “When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you…When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites…When you fast, do not look gloomy…” (Mt 6:2, 5, 16). Each of the three statements ends with the phrase “And your Father who sees in secret [or what is hidden] will repay you.”
The communion antiphon from Psalm 26 sets the tone for the kind of interior disposition to which Jesus calls us in our spiritual practices. “There is one thing I ask of the Lord, only this do I seek: to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life” (Ps 26:4). One thing alone is important: a heart that remains focused on God (living “in the house of the Lord”) rather than one that seeks earthly recognition for religious accomplishments.
Thought for today: If I am involved in any kind of ministry in the church, do I secretly desire to be recognized for my service or have people take note of my prayer life or works of charity?
Reflection by Br. Michael Marcotte, OSB