The Church’s first scripture for today is an excerpt from the Old Testament Book of Sirach. This particular passage is a hymn of praise to the prophet Elijah, the mighty wonderworker, who spoke God’s word of truth in his defiance of wicked men and women of power and worldliness.
Elijah was one of the greatest of the Israelite prophets, but he was not the last. God continued to speak through the prophets, but his word of truth spoken through the prophets was preparing Israel and the world for Christ. Christ is not just a prophet, but he is God. At one time, God’s word, was mediated by the prophets, but in Christ, God speaks for himself- and he speaks to us.
Christ is not silent, his word speaks to us in the Church, and like the word of the prophets, what Christ tells us is the truth.
The prophets were opposed because they spoke God’s truth, and Christ was opposed, so to the Church. God’s truth is more often than not precisely what we do not want to hear, and it often insists that we change and asks that we do what we find to be difficult. For these reasons, we tend to resist God’s word. Our resistance cannot bend God’s truth to our will, no matter how hard we try. God will not compromise in a matter as important as our salvation. He wants to save us, redeem us, deliver us, free us- but will we let him? His word of truth is always a lure, an invitation, to receive from God what we need the most, but will we accept what he wants us receive?
The Bible reveals that there are true prophets and false prophets, and in every age, both true and false prophets will be revealed. This is as true for now as it was in the days of Elijah.
True prophets are witnesses to Christ and inasmuch as their word is an invitation to know, to love and to serve Christ, their word is true. The false prophets of our time are cunning with their flattery, insisting that Christ’s Gospel is about affirming us as we are, rather than transforming us into saints.
False prophets have little use for Christ, except to use him as a means to advance political causes and ideological agendas. For the true prophet, Christ is the way, the truth and the life. For the false prophet, Christ is merely a slogan.
The Church must resist false prophets, with the same courage and tenacity with which Elijah resisted the false prophets and worldly powers of his own day.
The story of Elijah makes it clear that the Church’s resistance will not come without cost, but if we acquiesce to false prophets, we risk betraying Christ.
Christ the Lord encourage us to pray, and to pray in the words that he gives to us. His prayer is revered by Christians, and rightly so, but Christ does not give us in his prayer simply words that we are to reverence, but a way of life.
The way of life that Christ offers us acknowledges that God is foremost our Father, which means that we are his sons and daughters. And further, that we pray for the coming of his kingdom, not merely for the success of worldly kingdoms of wealth and power. The kingdom of God is revealed inasmuch as we adhere to God’s will, which happens when we keep the commandments that God gives to us.
We are to beg God each day for his bread. The clumsy, English translation of this text conceals that kind of bread Christ asks that we pray for- it is not merely earthly bread, but heavenly bread- the food that is Christ’s own Body and Blood. And we ask that we have the opportunity to forgive those who have wronged us, for in our willingness to forgive, we become like Christ who forgave those who hurt him, and he forgave them even when those who harmed him did not deserve to be forgiven.
We pray also to be delivered from temptation and evil, which means from the lure of worldliness, from the desire for wealth, pleasure, power and honors, from the false security of self interest and the tyranny of ego-centric desire.
Christ’s prayer, the prayer he insists we pray, is all about asking God to help us to live a different, a unique way of life- the life of a disciple, the life of a follower of Jesus Christ.