Memorial of Saint Anthony of Padua, priest and doctor of the Church
(I Kings 18:41-46; Matthew 5:20-26)
“How long will you straddle the issue?” Elijah asks the people of Israel. He is challenging them to choose between the Lord God and Baal. The former is credited with liberating Israel’s ancestors from servitude. Baal is associated with fertility. He is thought to produce rain for the people’s crops. The people must decide now to whom they will give allegiance.
First, however, they should take note how the Lord is active in their lives every day. He has provided the Law to guide them to justice. He also has responded to their pleas on numerous occasions. He does so in today’s passage. Elijah calls out to the Lord in need. Once again, the Lord acts with mercy and power.
People today continue to straddle the same issue. They know of Jesus Christ who has given them a more perfect Law. With him they can freely, even joyfully live in righteousness. They also know of humanly made gods with far-reaching influence. Technology which enthralls as well as makes living easier is the best example. People worship it, in a sense, by pursuing constantly new inventions. Which one will we choose? Christ who works from within enabling us to love unselfishly or the world of endless fascination. We cannot straddle the issue forever.