It was raining. Well, sheets of water coming down during the evening rush hour on I-95. It was a 9 on the Florida raining standard scale. It was tempting to turn around and go home. But I made a promise.
Friday was the Feast of Saint Lawrence and we gather with our Bishop on the feast of our patron. On this occasion we came to renew our diaconal promises to our bishop Gerald Michael Barbarito. It’s the multi-part promise from the day of our ordination. It was an evening of renewal of identity and purpose.
- Are you resolved to discharge the office of deacon with humility and love in order to assist the bishop and the priests and to serve the people of Christ?
- Are you resolved to hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience as the Apostle urges, and to proclaim this faith in word and action as it is taught by the Gospel and the Church’s tradition?
- Are you resolved to maintain and deepen a spirit of prayer appropriate to your way of life and, in keeping with what is required of you, to celebrate faithfully the liturgy of the hours for the Church and for the whole world?
- Are you resolved to shape your way of life always according to the example of Christ, whose body and blood you will give to the people?
- Do you promise respect and obedience to me and my successors?
Learning from Elijah
Borrowing from the readings this Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time I think Elijah’s crisis reveals his ability to keep a promise not of his own power but the benevolence of God. Elijah was in a deep spiritual warfare with those of Baal. Having defeated the Baal priests the spiritual war continued with Jezebel’s threats on his life. His resulting exasperation was pretty extreme having sat down under the broom tree and proclaim: This is enough, O LORD! Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.
God’s response: Elijah was twice fed by Angel bread and water to strengthen him for a 40 day journey through the wilderness. If manna in the desert for 40 years was for the body, then bread and water was for the spirit. In the end the writer of this sacred text reveals Elijah went on to anoint Hazael as king of Aram, Jehu priest/king of Israel, and Elisha as prophet. For a Christian this prefigures Christ as life giving bread and his role as priest, prophet and king.
Promises – a fragrant aroma
The dialog of the world is far removed from promises. Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of oaths taken. I remember taking one myself ‘to I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic’. Of all the oaths taken this is the most substantial. Yet, it is not enough. The promise of a fragrant aroma is the bridge between Elijah’s exasperation and Christ’s life giving gift of himself.
Remove all bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling. Refrain from malice. Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.
Listen to the Father – make a promise
Elijah heard the Father’s voice not in the maddening sounds of lightening and earthquake, not in the noise and din of the world but in the whisper.
Let us also hear the whisper, put away the oaths and advantage, and make a promise to partake of the living bread.