In the progression of the reading to responsorial psalm to Gospel reading today we have a very beautiful view of the evolving relationship between God and man and the revelation that He gives us from Himself. In the first reading we have the book of Sirach’s description of the great deeds of the prophet Elijah. Through it, we can see how the Israelites first encountered God: through His deeds starting at the Exodus and then His ongoing revelation through His prophets. Moving in to the Psalm, we see the attributes of God, far greater than even Elijah. Where Elijah is described as being super-human in ability, God is described as super-nature as mountains melt like wax and lightning and fire move about before Him.
After these descriptions of God’s awesome power and judgement, we move into one of the most famous Gospel readings. In it, Christ teaches what is known as the Lord’s Prayer or the Our Father. While God of course retains His justice and terrible power, Jesus tells us today of His mercy. The God for whom mountain, fire, and lightning bend is eager to reconcile us to Himself. He is ready to provide for our daily bread. And we can address him as Father; we can be His sons and daughters. This view, while not absent in the Old Testament, is realized in the coming of Christ and most fully explained by the Son of God Himself.
Lastly, as an interesting point. It is often stated by non-Catholic Christians that the Bible does not give any reference to the prayer to saints and their intercession in our world. Of course, those making this claim have removed the book of Sirach from their Bibles. Today’s reading shows us why they did so. The majority of the reading from today might be viewed as a prayer to Elijah, as the author addresses him directly. Perhaps he is not literally speaking to Elijah, but using that as a literary technique. Even if that were the case, we read of Elisha: As in his life he did wonders, so in death his deeds were marvelous. The author refers to the corpse that sprung to life after touching Elisha’s body, a story which thankfully was not removed from any Bible. The author here seems to connect that event with Elisha himself even more so than it is in 2nd Kings. We see why one might say “O, Elijah,” “O, Elisha,” or today “O, Mary and all the angels and saints.”
Reflections on the Readings of the Day: Thursday June 21st, 2012. Memorial of St. Aloysius Gonzaga
1st Reading Sir 48:1-14
Psalm Ps 97:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7
Gospel Mt 6:7-15