Reflection on Today’s Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM

Today’s Readings

Scripture: I Kings 18:20-39. Psalm 16:1- Matthew 5:17-19.

Elijah again trusts in God and does another great miracle.  He challenges
450 prophets dedicated to Baal, a god of fertility and storms.  The prophet
Elijah realizes that his own people have succumbed to worship Baal so he
now is going to show them and the followers of Baal who really is the one,
true, and almighty God.  Elijah tells the false prophets of Baal to prepare
a bull for sacrifice; he wil do the same. Then they are to invoke their god
while he will call upon the name of the Lord of Israel.  They are not able
to start the fire for sacrifice. To prove his point, Elijah then pours much
water over his sacrifice and immediately upon calling upon the Lord, the
fire consumes the sacrificial offerings.  Later he will slay all the 450
prophets of Baal.  Most likely, this is a creative story that is meant for
the Israelites to help them return to their faith in God (Yahweh).  Fr.
McKenzie helps us understand the significance of doing away with false
beliefs and magic:  "Baalism was a danger to Israelite belief not merely
because of its obscenities (sacred prostitution) but also because it was
nature worship which reduced Yahweh to the level of a personified natural
force and made religion no more than a means of securing the good of
nature. Ultimately the cult was a denial of any moral values or of any
transcendental reality." (Dictionary of the Bible, p.73).  We, today, learn
from this imaginative account that absolute trust in God is essential to
the prophetic message of Elijah and the other true prophets.

Jesus now is telling us that he is not going to destroy one iota or
decoration on the letters of the law--the written Torah. Nor will he
destroy the spirit of the Torah. He will get to the heart of its meaning
and live it out while challenging the scribes in anything that is
superficial about their interpretation. He fulfills all that is God's
revelatory message and lives it out daily for his disciples.  We learn much
from seeing this dimension of Jesus' teachings about the Torah and how we,
too, must respect both testaments equally since they come from the same God
who is revealing his plans and love for all of us through the Scriptures
both the Torah that is written and the Torah that is handed on orally in
the tradition.  We Catholics often need to correct some of the false ideas
we learned earlier about the Old Testament. The God of the Hebrew
Scriptures is a God of love.We must always realize that despite the human
factors involved in the way the authors explained things in their time that
God is always a God of love. Jesus knew this and taught this about God, his
Father. He had only the Hebrew Scriptures as his Bible.  We are led to
follow him in honoring these Scriptures.