Daily Thought For June 10, 2020

Commentary On Today's Scripture Reading

“Carmel” is a chain of mountains that starts near the port of Haifa and runs some 30 km. (18.5 miles) south-east. Its height (almost 600 m. or 1800 ft.) and its lush vegetation made it particularly suitable as a place of religious cult (at that time, the local people worshipped Baal). There, the one, true God will make himself manifest in the sacrificial fire. To begin with, the people have nothing to say when Elijah upbraids them, but at the end of the episode (v. 38) they make a profession of faith which echoes in a way the faith of the prophet, who bears witness to the living God. The name of Elijah, “ ‘The Lord is my God’, foretells the people’s cry in response to his prayer on Mount Carmel” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2582).

The fire which consumes the offering is a figure of the Holy Spirit: “While water signifies birth and the fruitfulness of life given in the Holy Spirit, fire symbolizes the transforming energy of the Holy Spirit’s actions. The prayer of the prophet Elijah, who ‘arose like fire’ and whose ‘word burned like a torch’ (Sir 48:1), brought down fire from heaven on the sacrifice on Mount Carmel (cf. 1 Kings 18:38–39). This event was a ‘figure’ of the fire of the Holy Spirit, who transforms what he touches. John the Baptist, who goes ‘before [the Lord] in the spirit and power of Elijah’ (Lk 1:17), proclaims Christ as the one who ‘who will baptize you with Holy Spirit and with fire’ (Lk 3:16). Jesus will say of the Spirit: ‘I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!’ (Lk 12:49). In the form of tongues ‘as of fire’, the Holy Spirit rests on the disciples on the morning of Pentecost and fills them with himself (Acts 2:3–4). The spiritual tradition has retained this symbolism of fire as one of the most expressive images of the Holy Spirit’s actions (cf. St John of the Cross, The Living Flame of Love). ‘Do not quench the Spirit’ (1 Thess 5:19)” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 696).

Gavigan, J., McCarthy, B., & McGovern, T. (Eds.). (2005). Joshua–Kings (pp. 493–495). Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers.

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