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Elijah’s Exodus

Homily for Wednesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Today’s reading from the Second Book of Kings offers us the wonderful story of the final days of the prophet, Elijah. The sacred writer tells us that just as God had opened a dry path through the Red Sea for the Israelites, God opened a dry path through the River Jordan for Elijah to pass over. This is an important image of which we will be reminded in the Gospel of St. Luke. When St. Luke wrote about the Transfiguration of Jesus atop Mt. Horeb, he wrote: “And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.” These two were chosen to speak to Jesus because they had both experienced the same exodus, the same passing over.

The River Jordan has long been an image of the entrance to the Promised Land. In the African American spiritual, “Deep River,” the lyric reads: “Deep river, My home is over Jordan. Deep river, Lord. I want to cross over into campground. Oh, don't you want to go, To the Gospel feast; That Promised Land, Where all is peace?”

The reading also reminds us of the Ascension of Jesus. Elijah passed his mantle and his mission on to Elisha; Jesus commissioned his apostles to take up his mission. Elisha asked for a double portion of the spirit which had animated Elijah. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit upon the apostles after he ascended to heaven.

So this reading really offers us two thoughts to ponder today. First we are reminded that one day we too will cross over the River Jordan into the Promised Land. Elijah knows where he is headed; we also know that this is our destiny. We also are reminded that we, like Elisha, have been commissioned to fill our days with the works of the Holy Spirit. Our prayer today asks for the continued presence of the Holy Spirit in our efforts to bring the Gospel to all.

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

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