Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are reminded of the faith that we have in the Lord, and how we have to commit to this faith and stand up for it in the face of the opposition and challenges that we may have to endure in the path of our lives as Christians. There are plenty of obstacles and trials that we may have to face just as our predecessors had experienced, as we heard it from our Scripture readings today, in the story of the prophet Elijah and how he went alone against the four hundred and fifty priests of Baal at Mount Carmel.
At that time, king Ahab of Israel had been persecuting those who were faithful to the Lord and the prophets of God, including Elijah and many other prophets. They had been persecuted, harassed and even killed, such that only Elijah remained among the prophets of God still actively working and ministering to the people of the land of the northern kingdom of Israel. Ahab also promoted the worship of the pagan god Baal, with the support from his wife, the queen Jezebel, who was a pagan worshipper. As such, that was why we saw how there were so many Baal priests assembled against Elijah before the people of Israel at Mount Carmel.
Elijah made his stand before king Ahab and the people of Israel, risking his own safety and life, to end the dispute once and for all, and to show the people who the real true God is, between the God of Israel, the God of their forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, or Baal, the god of the pagans. Elijah went up alone against his enemies, but God was with him and guided him through those challenging moments. And Elijah showed that the Lord, the God of Israel is truly the one and only true God, when the false god Baal failed to intercede for all of his worshippers despite there being four hundred and fifty priests and many others including the king who sided with him against God.
Elijah remained firm and resolute, and prayed to God, asking Him to remember His people and the love He had for them, and for Him to show forth His might before all so that the people might come to know who the one and only true God is. God sent fire from Heaven that completely consumed the sacrificial offering and Altar that Elijah built on Mount Carmel even when he had poured a lot of water on the Altar, purposefully handicapping himself against the priests of Baal. With that, God showed the people of Israel that He was indeed the one true God, deserving of worship, and not Baal, the false idol and god.
But that was not the end of Elijah’s struggle, as due to the defeat of Baal’s priests, queen Jezebel held a strong hatred and grudge against Elijah, who had to endure the persecutions, and wandered off even into exile at times to continue to minister to the people of the northern kingdom of Israel that he had been sent to. Nevertheless, Elijah kept on going and did what he could to serve the Lord and to glorify His Name, to the best of his ability. He kept proclaiming the Lord and His truth to the people, even if many among them were stubborn and refused to budge and believe in God. And whatever he had revealed and spoken, was echoed by the Lord Jesus, our Lord and Saviour as well.
In our Gospel passage today, the Lord was going against His critics, who accused Him of trying to abolish the Law and to destroy the laws of Moses by His teachings and works. Contextually, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law opposed the Lord Jesus because He refused to follow and has always critiqued their misrepresentation and flawed application of the Law of God as revealed through Moses and the prophets. Much like Elijah who had to go against the multitudes of the priests of Baal, the Lord Jesus also had to go against the many Pharisees, teachers of the Law and even the chief priests who were against Him.
But the Lord revealed that what He was doing was the real truth, and everything He did was to return the Law to its original intention and purpose, long misunderstood and misused by mankind, by the people of God, especially those who opposed Him because they preferred and were attached to their version of the Law which satisfied their own intentions and purposes, rather than obeying the will and desires of God. Just like Elijah revealing who the one and only true God is to the people, the Lord Jesus through His actions revealed that He is the Way, the Truth and Life, the One true God, incarnate in the flesh.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, the lessons from today’s Scripture readings remind us that as Christians we are likely to encounter some or even many challenges, trials and oppositions to our beliefs and way of life. Some of us have already suffered this, just as multitudes of our predecessors had, right from the beginning of the Church. Those who were faithful to God had faced a lot of trials and sufferings, and yet, they remained firm in their faith and were adamant in their desire to continue following and proclaiming the truth of the one and only true God, the same God we worship and believe in.
Are we willing to stand up for our faith, brothers and sisters in Christ, despite the challenges and trials we may have to face amidst those persecutions, difficulties and obstacles we encounter? We are all called to be genuine Christians in life and be the beacons of God’s light and truth in our world today, so that through us more and more people may come to know the Lord and believe in Him. And we should not worry as the Lord will always be with us and by our side. Let us all therefore dedicate ourselves anew to Him from now on, and commit ourselves to a life truly righteous and just, at all times. May God be with us always and may He bless us in our every good works and endeavours. Amen.