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In a Tiny Voice

First Reading: 1 Kings 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.”

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 27:7-8A, 8B-9ABC, 13-14

R. (8b) I long to see your face, O Lord.
Hear, O LORD, the sound of my call;
have pity on me, and answer me.
Of you my heart speaks; you my glance seeks.
R. I long to see your face, O Lord.
Your presence, O LORD, I seek.
Hide not your face from me;
do not in anger repel your servant.
You are my helper: cast me not off.
R. I long to see your face, O Lord.
I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.
R. I long to see your face, O Lord.

Gospel: Matthew 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.”

NAB

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Have you had a season when you are sure that you are going from fire to earthquake and you are running for your life? Today’s first reading finds the prophet Elijah in such a place. He wants to curl up and hide, but God challenges him to go out on a mountain and listen for His voice.

God demands to know why Elijah has run away. Prophets aren’t supposed to retreat and hide. God’s question sounds reproachful and Elijah sounds whiny about the formidable challenges.

Elijah had enemies who were a mortal danger. Sometimes, when I read the Old Testament, it’s difficult to relate to the anguish that comes with running for your life. Then I consider the mortal enemies in my life: fear and pessimism. I don’t hide in caves, but I have been known to curl up in bed, discouraged and lethargic, in an attempt to escape those pursuers. The taunting of the enemies can drown out the voice of the majestic Lord.

Earlier in the story, the Lord has asked Elijah to eat life-giving food (1 Kings 19:5). That is the beginning of his renewal. God knows that His followers need strength to carry out His mission—whether the mission is caring for four children 4-years-old and under or taking three exams in a day or holding the hand of a dying loved one. We are women of mission who need strength in our storms. Elijah’s return to the mission field begins with an act of self-care: eat well.

Then, in the stillness after wind and fire, Elijah hears the tiny whispering voice. Here, God calls you out of the cave and He issues a command to move beyond the enemies that fuel burnout and into the grace He will provide to accomplish the unique mission He gives you. God calls Elijah from the lethargy that comes with discouragement. He calls us from the grip of fear and pessimism. He restores us and gives us hope.

Elijah is equipped with a strong faith that can weather the storms of personal failure because he understands his vocation and trusts God’s providence. So too, does God call us. He will not leave us whimpering fearfully in a cave, wracked by self-pity. Instead, He will encourage us to care for ourselves and then conquer the world for Him. Take good care of yourself today and then listen for the tiny, whispering voice in your storms.

We are women of mission who need strength in our storms. Elijah’s return to the mission field begins with an act of self-care. Think about your own personal self-care and your return to the mission field.

photo credit

Elizabeth Foss is a wife, the mother of nine, and a grandmother. She finds the cacophony of big family imperfection to be the perfect place to learn to walk in the unforced rhythms of grace. You can learn more about her here

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