10th Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: 1Kngs 19:9a, 11-16
At the mountain of God, Horeb, Elijah came to a cave, where he took shelter. But the word of the LORD came to him, “Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will be passing by.” A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was fire but the LORD was not in the fire. After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave. A voice said to him, “Elijah, why are you here?” He replied, “I have been most zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. But the children of Israel have forsaken your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to the sword. I alone am left, and they seek to take my life.” The LORD said to him, “Go, take the road back to the desert near Damascus. When you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king of Aram. Then you shall anoint Jehu, son of Nimshi, as king of Israel, and Elisha, son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah, as prophet to succeed you.”
Gospel: Mt 5:27-32
Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, you shall not commit adultery. But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into Gehenna. “It was also said, whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce. But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”
THE WHISPERING SOUND: In the first reading, we hear the story of Elijah’s encounter with God in a “whispering sound.” This gentle encounter marks a critical point his ministry. A point of transition. What state is Elijah in before the encounter, and what will happen to him after? Perhaps, when Elijah climbs up the mountain he is in a state of guilt and trauma, having put the 450 prophets of Baal to death. The encounter at Horeb, helps him come out of the trauma. Elijah is going to be offered a new mission. In effect, he is going to retire. He has to anoint his successor: Elisha! Do we get confused in moments of transition? Resignations, transfers and transitions do not mean that God is far away from us. Those could be most powerful moments in our life, because God meets us in our vulnerability!
Prayer: Lord, help me recognize your presence in my life even in the sound of sheer silence.
IN GOD WE ARE ABLE: Sin has its sway on us even after baptismal cleansing. We are weak “earthen vessels” as Paul puts it. In state, we can’t boast of anything. But God uses us by elevating us with his grace so that we are able to do whatever pleases him and to remain steadfast in faith. With this grace, we are brought to life in Christ who died for us. Having been so much elevated even though unmerited, let us use our bodies not for concupiscence, but rather for rendering God fragrant spiritual sacrifices. Our bodies are the Temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor.6:19).
RESPECT AND SUPPORT WOMEN: Today is the World day against Child Labour. Violence against children and women is a sign of forsaking God. In Africa violence against women begins from childhood. Families prefer sons to daughters. Girls are subjected to female genital mutilation. In the contexts of political and social conflicts, rape is used as weapon of war. These raped women are rejected by their own families and the community. Women are subjected to domestic violence. 50% of women in Tanzania and 71% in Ethiopia experience violence at home. Jesus says that lust is the root cause of sins against women. Lust means considering a female as an object of consumption deprived of human rights and dignity. Adultery and divorce are results of lust. All these aberrations are very painful to women and to the society. We need to work for the equality and the dignity of women. Working for gender equality and justice is not the agenda of women but of all. Let us examine our attitude towards gender parity.