Wednesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
(II Kings 2:1.6-14; Matthew 6:1-6.16-18)
A generation ago the movie “Chariots of Fire” won critical acclaim. It told the story of the British runners who beat the favored Americans at the 1920 Olympics. The drama centered largely on Eric Liddell, a devout Christian. Liddell was forced to make a decision between competing on Sunday and honoring the Third Commandment. He did not hesitate to choose the Lord. Liddell demonstrated the same courage as Elijah whose spirit Elisha seeks in today’s first reading.
Elijah is the paragon of prophets. He speaks truth to power and exhorts the people to faithfulness. God favors him the supernatural capacity of calling down fire on opponents. He also suffers for his convictions. In asking for a double portion of his spirit Elisha is both reaching for greatness and risking his future. He too will accomplish great deeds but not without a share of anguish.
Eventually Jesus will prove to be the greatest of the prophets. He will insist that both kings and commoners observe the true spirit of the Law. No one will suffer for his convictions more unjustifiably than he. Without being asked, he gladly sends his Spirit upon us. We are to carry on his pursuit of inner righteousness come what may.