Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Monday, August 6, 2012 Litany Lane Blog: dogma,Mark 9:2-10 The Transfiguration, St Hormisdas, Elijah



Monday, August 6, 2012

Sogma, Mark 9:2-10 , Feast of The Transfiguration, St Hormisdas, Elijah

Good Day Bloggers! 
Wishing everyone a Blessed Week! 

P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Something Happens). It has a remarkable way of producing solace, peace, patience and tranquility and of course resolution...God's always available 24/7..

We are all human. We all experience birth, life and death. We all have flaws but we also all have the gift knowledge and free will as well, make the most of it. Life on earth is a stepping to our eternal home in Heaven. Its your choice whether to rise towards eternal light or lost to eternal darkness. Material items, though needed for sustenance and survival on earth are of earthly value only. The only thing that passes from this earth to Heaven is our Soul, our Spirit...it's God's perpetual gift to us...Embrace it, treasure it, nurture it, protect it...

"Raise not a hand to another unless it is to offer in peace and goodwill." ~ Zarya Parx 2012



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Today's Word:     dogma  dog·ma  [dawg-muh-tuh]


Origin:  1590–1600;  < Latin  < Greek,  equivalent to dok ( eîn ) to seem, think, seem good + -ma  noun suffix

noun, plural dog·mas .
1.an official system of principles or tenets concerning faith, morals, behavior, etc., as of a church. doctrine, teachings, set of beliefs, philosophy.
2.a specific tenet or doctrine authoritatively laid down, as by a church: the dogma of the Assumption; the recently defined dogma of papal infallibility. tenet, canon, law.
3.prescribed doctrine proclaimed as unquestionably true by a particular group: the difficulty of resisting political dogma.
4.a settled or established opinion, belief, or principle: the classic dogma of objectivity in scientific observation. conviction, certainty.



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Today's Gospel Reading - Mark 9: 2-10

Lectio:  Monday, August 6, 2012
The Transfiguration of Jesus: the cross on the horizon
The passion that leads to glory

A key to the reading:

The Transfiguration, 1487 Bellini
On this Solemnity, the Church meditates on the Transfiguration of Jesus in the presence of the three disciples who joined him on the mountain. The Transfiguration takes place after the first announcement of the death of Jesus (Lk 9:21-22). This announcement had confused the disciples and especially Peter. When we take a close look at the small details, we see that the text describes the transfiguration in a way that makes us aware of how this unusual experience of Jesus was able to help the disciples overcome the crisis in which they found themselves. As we read, let us try to pay attention to the following: "How did the transfiguration take place and what was the reaction of the disciples towards this experience?"


a) A division of the text to help our reading:

Mark 9:2-4: The Transfiguration of Jesus in the presence of his disciples
Mark 9:5-6: Peter’s reaction to the transfiguration
Mark 9:7-8: The voice from heaven that explains the meaning of the Transfiguration
Mark 9:9-10: Keeping secret what they had seen

b) The Gospel Mark 9:2-10:

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John and led them up a high mountain on their own by themselves. There in their presence he was transfigured: his clothes became brilliantly white, whiter than any earthly bleacher could make them. Elijah appeared to them with Moses; and they were talking to Jesus. Then Peter spoke to Jesus, 'Rabbi,' he said, 'it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three shelters, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.' He did not know what to say; they were so frightened. And a cloud came, covering them in shadow; and from the cloud there came a voice, 'This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.' Then suddenly, when they looked round, they saw no one with them any more but only Jesus. As they were coming down from the mountain he warned them to tell no one what they had seen, until after the Son of man had risen from the dead. They observed the warning faithfully, though among themselves they discussed what 'rising from the dead' could mean.

~A moment of prayerful silence so that the Word of God may penetrate and enlighten our life.

~Some questions to help us in our personal reflection.
a) Which part of the text did you like most or that touched you most? Why?
b) How does the transfiguration take place and what is the reaction of the disciples to this experience?
c) Why does the text present Jesus with brilliant clothes while he is speaking with Moses and Elijah? Who are Moses and Elijah for Jesus? Who are they for the disciples?
d) What is the message of the voice from heaven for Jesus? And what is the message for the disciples?
e) How can we transfigure, today, our personal and family life and the life of the community in our area?
  

~For those who wish to go deeper into the theme

a) The context then and now
 The foretelling of the passion sank the disciples into a deep crisis. They lived among the poor, but in their minds they were confused, lost as they were in the propaganda of the government and of the official religion of their time (Mk 8:15). The official religion taught that the Messiah would be glorious and victorious! That is why Peter reacts strongly against the cross (Mk 8:32). Someone condemned to die on the cross could not be the Messiah, rather, according to the Law of God, he had to be considered “cursed by God” (Dt 21:22-23). In these circumstances, the experience of the Transfiguration of Jesus was able to help the disciples overcome the trauma of the Cross. In fact, at the Transfiguration, Jesus appears in glory and speaks with Moses and Elijah of his Passion and Death (Lk 9:31). The journey towards glory, then, is through the cross.

In the 70’s, when Mark is writing his Gospel, the Cross was a great obstacle for the Jews to accept Jesus as the Messiah. How could it be that one crucified, one who died as one marginalized, was the great Messiah expected for centuries by the people? The cross was an obstacle to believing in Jesus. "The cross is a scandal," they said (1Cor 1:23). The community did not know how to respond to the critical questions put to them by the Jews. One of the great efforts of the early Christians was that of assisting people to see that the cross was neither scandal nor madness, but rather the expression of the power and wisdom of God (1Cor 1:22-31). Mark’s Gospel contributes to that effort. He uses texts from the Old Testament to describe the scene of the Transfiguration. He shed light on the events of the life of Jesus and shows that Jesus fulfils the prophecies and that the Cross is the way that leads to Glory. It was not just the cross of Jesus that was a problem! In the 70’s, the cross of persecution was part of every-day life for Christians. In fact, just a little time before, Nero had launched his persecution and many died. Today too, many people suffer because they are Christians and because they live the Gospel. How do we approach the cross? What does it mean? With these questions in mind we meditate and comment on the text of the transfiguration.

b) A commentary on the text:
Mark 9:2-4: Jesus looks different.
Jesus goes up a high mountain. Luke adds that he goes there to pray (Lk 9:28). There, on the summit of the mountain, Jesus appears in glory in the presence of Peter, James and John. Together with him appear Moses and Elijah. The high mountain recalls Mount Sinai, where in times past, God had made known his will to the people by presenting the law to Moses. The white clothes of Jesus recall Moses shrouded in light as he speaks to God on the Mountain and as he receives the law from God (cf. Ex 34:29-35). Elijah and Moses, the two great authorities of the Old Testament, speak with Jesus. Moses represents the Law and Elijah the prophets. Luke says that they talked about the Death of Jesus in Jerusalem (Lk 9:31). Thus it was clear that the Old Testament, both the Law and the Prophets, taught that the way to glory is through the cross.

Mark 9:5-6: Peter likes what is happening but does not understand. Peter likes what is going on and wants this pleasing moment on the Mountain to last. He suggests building three tents. Mark says that Peter was afraid and did not know what he was saying, and Luke adds that the disciples were sleepy (Lk 9:32). For them, as it is for us, it is difficult to understand the Cross!

The description of the transfiguration begins with an affirmation: “Six days later”. What six days are these? Some scholars explain this phrase thus: Peter wants to build three tents, because it was the sixth day of the feast of tents. This was a very popular feast of six days that celebrated the gift of the Law of God and the forty years spent in the desert. To recall these forty years, the people had to spend six days in temporary tents. That is why it was called the Feast of the Tents. If they could not celebrate the whole six days, they had to celebrate at least the sixth day. The affirmation "six days later" would then be an allusion to the feast of the tents. That is why Peter recalls the duty of building tents. And spontaneously, he offers himself to build the tents. Thus Jesus,
Moses and Elijah would have been able to go on talking. 

Mark 9:7: The voice from heaven shed light on the events.
 As soon as Jesus is shrouded in glory, a voice from heaven says: "This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him!" The expression "Beloved Son" recalls the figure of the Servant Messiah, proclaimed by the prophet Isaiah (cf. Is 42:1). The expression "Listen to him" recalls the prophecy that promised the coming of the new Moses (cf. Dt 18:15). In Jesus, the prophecies of the Old Testament are being fulfilled. The disciples could not doubt this. The Christians of the 70’s could not doubt this. Jesus is truly the glorious Messiah, but the way to glory is through the cross, the second proclamation made in the prophecy of the Servant (Is 53:3-9). The glory of the Transfiguration is proof of this. Moses and Elijah confirm this. The Father is the guarantor of this. Jesus accepts this.

Mark 9:8: Only Jesus and no one else!
 Mark says that after the vision, the disciples see only Jesus and no one else. The emphasis on the affirmation that they see only Jesus suggests that from now on Jesus is the only revelation of God for us! For us Christians, Jesus, and only Jesus, is the key to understanding the complete meaning of the Old Testament.

Mark 9: 9-10: Knowing how to keep silent.
 Jesus asks his disciples not to say anything to anyone until he would have risen from the dead, but the disciples do not understand him. Indeed, anyone who does not link suffering to the resurrection, does not understand the meaning of the Cross. Jesus is stronger than death.

Mark 9:11-13: The return of the prophet Elijah.
The prophet Malachi had proclaimed that Elijah was to return to prepare the way of the Messiah (Ml 3:23-24). This same proclamation is also found in the book of Ecclesiastes (Ec 48:10). Then, how could Jesus be the Messiah if Elijah had not returned yet? That is why the disciples asked: “Why do the Scribes say that Elijah must come first?” (9:11). Jesus’ reply is clear: “I tell you that Elijah has come and they have treated him as they pleased, just as the scriptures say about him” (9: 13). Jesus was referring to John the Baptist who was murdered by Herod (Mt 17:13).


c) Further information:
i) The Transfiguration: the change that takes place in the practice of Jesus
In the middle of conflicts with the Pharisees and Herodians (Mk 8:11-21), Jesus leaves Galilee and goes to the region of Caesarea Philippi (Mk 8:27), where he begins to prepare his disciples. On the way, he puts a question to them: "Who do people say I am?" (Mk 8:27) After listening to their reply that they considered him the Messiah, Jesus begins to speak of his passion and death (Mk 8:31). Peter reacts: "Heaven preserve you, Lord!" (Mt 16:22). Jesus replies: "Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle in my path, because you are thinking not as God thinks but as human beings do!" (Mk 8:33) This was a moment of crisis for the disciples, who still held on to the thought of a glorious Messiah (Mk 8:32-33; 9:32), not understanding Jesus’ reply and trying to divert it in another direction. It was close to the feast of the Tents, (cf Lk 9:33), when the popular messianic expectation was much stronger than usual. Jesus goes up the mountain to pray (Lk 9:28). He overcomes temptation by prayer. The revelation of the Kingdom was different from that which the people imagined. The victory of the Servant would take place through the death sentence (Is 50:4-9; 53:1-12). The cross appears on the horizon, not just as a possibility, but as a certainty. From this moment on a change takes place in Jesus’ practice.

Here are some important signs of this change:
Few miracles. At first there are many miracles. Now, beginning with Mk 8:27; Mt 16:13 and Lk 9:18, miracles are almost an exception in Jesus’ activities.
Proclaiming the Passion. Earlier there was talk of the passion as a remote possibility (Mk 3:6). Now there is constant talk of it (Mk 8:31; 9:9.31; 10:33.38).
Taking up the Cross. Earlier, Jesus proclaimed the imminent coming of the Kingdom. Now he insists on watchfulness, the demands on those who follow him and the necessity to take up one’s cross (Mt 16:24-26; 19:27-30; 24:42-51; 25:1-13; Mk 8:34; 10:28-31; Lk 9:23-26.57-62; 12:8-9.35-48; 14:25-33; 17:33; 18:28-30).
He teaches the disciples. Earlier he taught the people. Now he is more concerned with the formation of his disciples. He asks them to choose again (Jn 6:67) and begins to prepare them for the future mission. He goes out of the city so as to stay with them and busy himself with their formation (Mk 8:27; 9:28. 30-35; 10:10.23.28-32; 11:11).
Different parables. Earlier, the parables revealed the mystery of the Kingdom present in the activities of Jesus. Now the parables tend towards the future judgement, at the end of time: the murderous vine growers (Mt 21:33-46); the merciless servant (Mt 18:23-35), the workers of the eleventh hour (Mt 20:1-16), the two sons (Mt 21:28-32), the wedding banquet (Mt 22:1-14), the ten talents (Mt 25:14-30).

Jesus accepts the will of the Father that is revealed in the new situation and decides to go to Jerusalem (Lk 9:51). He takes this decision with such determination as to frighten his disciples, who cannot understand what is going on (Mk 10:32; Lk 18:31-34). In the society of that time, the proclamation of the Kingdom as Jesus proclaimed it, could not be tolerated. So either he had to change or he had to die! Jesus did not change his proclamation. He continued to be faithful to the Father and to the poor. That is why he was sentenced to death!

ii) The transfiguration and the return of the prophet Elijah
In Mark’s Gospel, the scene of the transfiguration is linked to the question of the return of the prophet Elijah (Mk 9:9-13). In those days, people expected the return of the prophet Elijah and were not aware that Elijah had already returned in the person of John the Baptist (Mk 9:13). The same thing happens today. Many people live in expectation of the return of Jesus and even write on the walls of cities: Jesus will return! They are not aware that Jesus is already present in our lives. Every now and then, like an unexpected flash of lightning, this presence of Jesus breaks out and shines, transforming our lives. A question that each one us should ask is: Has my faith in Jesus offered me a moment of transfiguration and intense joy? How have such moments of joy given me strength in moments of difficulties?


Reference: Courtesy of Order of Carmelites, www.ocarm.org.



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Saint of the Day:  St. Hormisdas, Pope of Rome

Feast Day: August 6
Died: 523
Patron Saint of :  n/a


Pope Saint Hormisdas (c. 450 – 6 August 523) was Pope of Rome from 20 July 514 to 523. His papacy was dominated by the Acacian schism, started in 484 by Acacius of Constantinople's efforts to placate the Monophysites. His efforts to resolve this schism was successful, and on 28 March 519, the reunion of the Greek Church with Rome was ratified in the cathedral of Constantinople before a large crowd.

Biography

He was born at Frosinone, Campagna di Roma, Italy. Before becoming a Roman deacon, Hormisdas was married, and his son became pope under the name of Silverius. During the Laurentian schism, Hormisdas was one of the most prominent clerical partisans of Pope Symmachus. He was notary at the synod held at St. Peter's in 502.[3] Two letters of Magnus Felix Ennodius, bishop of Pavia, survive addressed to him, written when the latter tried to regain horses and money he had lent the pope.

Unlike his predecessor Symmachus, his election lacked any notable controversies. Upon becoming Pope, one of Hormisdas' first actions was to remove the last vestiges of the schism in Rome, receiving back into the Church those adherents of the Laurentian party who had not already been reconciled. "The schism had lingered on largely out of personal hatred to Symmachus," writes Jeffrey Richards, "something with which Hormisdas was apparently not tainted."

The account of his tenure in the Liber Pontificalis, as well as the overwhelming bulk of his surviving correspondence, is dominated by efforts to restore communion between the Sees of Rome and Constantinople caused by the Acacian schism. This schism was the consequence of the "Henoticon" of the Emperor Zeno and supported by his successor Anastasius, who became more and more inclined towards Monophysitism and persecuted those bishops who refused to repudiate the Council of Chalcedon.

The emperor Anastasius took the first steps to resolve this schism pressured by Vitalian, the commander of the imperial cavalry, who, having taken up the cause of orthodoxy, led Thracia, Scythia Minor, and Mysia to revolt, and marched with an army of Huns and Bulgarians to the gates of Constantinople. Richards points out that there would bound to be some tentative efforts from Constantinople, "if only because there was a new man on the throne of St. Peter. Relations between Symmachus and the emperor Anastasius had been virtually non-existent".

Anastasius wrote to Hormisdas on 28 December 514, inviting him to a synod that would be held 1 July of the following year. A second, less courteous invitation, dated 12 January 515, was also sent by Anastasius to the pope, which reached Rome before the first. On 4 April Hormisdas answered, expressing his delight at the prospect of peace, but at the same time defending the position of his predecessors and welcoming a synod, but believing it unnecessary. The bearers of the emperor's first letter at last reached Rome on 14 May. The pope guardedly carried on negotiations, convened a synod at Rome and wrote to the emperor on 8 July to announce the departure of an embassy for Constantinople. Meanwhile the two hundred bishops who had assembled on 1 July at Heraclea separated without accomplishing anything.

The pope's embassy to the imperial court consisted of two bishops, Ennodius of Pavia and Fortunatus of Catina, the priest Venantius, the deacon Vitalis, and the notary Hilarius. According to Rev. J. Barmby, Hormisdas made several demands: (1) The emperor should publicly announce his acceptance of the council of Chalcedon and the letters of Pope Leo; (2) the Eastern bishops should make a similar public declaration, and in addition anathematize Nestorius, Eutyches, Dioscorus, Aelurus, Peter Mongus, Peter the Fuller, and Acacius, with all their followers; (3) everyone exiled in this dispute should be recalled and their cases reserved for the judgment of the Apostolic See; (4) those exiles who had been in communion with Rome and professed Catholicism should first be recalled; and (5) bishops accused of having persecuted the orthodox should be sent to Rome to be judged. "Thus the emperor proposed a free discussion in council; the pope required the unqualified acceptance of orthodoxy, and submission to himself as head of Christendom, before he would treat at all."

An imperial embassy of two high civil officials came to Rome bringing one letter dated 16 July 516 for the pope, and one dated 28 July for the Roman Senate; the aim of the latter was to convince the senators to take a stand against Hormisdas. However both the Senate, as well as King Theodoric, stayed loyal to the pope. Meanwhile Hormisdas reported to Avitus of Vienne that an additional number of Balkan bishops had entered into relations with Rome, and Bishop John of Nicopolis, who was also the archbishop of Epirus, had broken communion with Constantinople and resumed it with Rome.

A second papal embassy consisting of Ennodius and Bishop Peregrinus of Misenum was as unsuccessful as the first. Anastasius even attempted to bribe the legates, but was unsuccessful. Secure now that Vitalian had been defeated outside Constantinople, forced into hiding, and his supporters executed, Anastasius announced on 11 July 517 that he was breaking off the negotiations. But less than a year later the emperor died; the Liber Pontificalis claims he was struck dead by a thunderbolt. His successor, the Catholic Justin I, immediately reversed Anastasius' policies. All the demands of Pope Hormisdas were granted: the name of the condemned Patriarch Acacius as well as the names of the Emperors Anastasius and Zeno were stricken from the church diptychs, and the Patriarch John II accepted the formula of Hormisdas with some qualifications. Notably John added to the text his opinion that Rome (Old Rome) and Constantinople (New Rome) were on the same level. The Patriarch showed this when he added to the document…
"I declare that the see of apostle Peter and the see of this imperial city are one."
Furthermore despite it being on of the demands in the formula the east continued to disregard papal demands by not condemning Acacius. On 28 March 519, in the cathedral of Constantinople in presence of a great throng of people, the end of the schism was concluded in a solemn ceremony.


References
  1. This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Pope St. Hormisdas". Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company.


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Today's Snippet:   Elijah


Elijah  meaning "Yahweh is my God";, was a prophet in the northern kingdom of Israel during the reign of Ahab (9th century BC), according to the Books of Kings. According to the Books of Kings, Elijah defended the worship of Yahweh over that of the Phoenician god Baal; he raised the dead, brought fire down from the sky, and was taken up in a whirlwind (either accompanied by a chariot and horses of flame or riding in it).

 In the Book of Malachi, Elijah's return is prophesied "before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord," making him a harbinger of the Messiah and the eschaton in various faiths that revere the Hebrew Bible. Derivative references to Elijah appear in the Talmud, Mishnah, the New Testament, and the Qur'an.
In Judaism, Elijah's name is invoked at the weekly Havdalah ritual that marks the end of Shabbat, and Elijah is invoked in other Jewish customs, among them the Passover seder and the Brit milah (ritual circumcision). He appears in numerous stories and references in the Haggadah and rabbinic literature, including the Babylonian Talmud.

In Christianity, the New Testament describes how both Jesus and John the Baptist are compared with Elijah, and on some occasions, thought by some to be manifestations of Elijah, and Elijah appears with Moses during the Transfiguration of Jesus.


Biblical narratives and historical background

Map of Israel as it was in the 9th century BC. Blue is the Kingdom of Israel. Golden yellow is the Kingdom of Judah.
By the 9th century BC, the Kingdom of Israel, once united under King Solomon, was divided into the northern Kingdom of Israel and southern Kingdom of Judah, which retained the historic seat of government and focus of the Israelite religion at the Temple in Jerusalem. Omri, King of Israel, continued policies dating from the reign of Jeroboam, contrary to the laws of Moses, that were intended to reorient religious focus away from Jerusalem: encouraging the building of local temple altars for sacrifices, appointing priests from outside the family of the Levites, and allowing or encouraging temples dedicated to the Canaanite god, Baal. Omri achieved domestic security with a marriage alliance between his son Ahab and princess Jezebel, a priestess of Baal and the daughter of the king of Sidon in Phoenicia. These solutions brought security and economic prosperity to Israel for a time, but did not bring peace with the Israelite prophets, who were interested in a strict deuteronomic interpretation of Mosaic law.

As King, Ahab exacerbated these tensions. Ahab allowed worship of a foreign god in the palace, building a temple for Baal, and allowing Jezebel to bring a large entourage of priests and prophets of Baal and Asherah into the country. It is in this context that Elijah is introduced in 1 Kings 17:1 as Elijah "The Tishbite". He warns Ahab that there will be years of catastrophic drought so severe that not even dew will fall, because Ahab and his queen stand at the end of a line of kings of Israel who are said to have "done evil in the sight of the Lord."

1st and 2nd Kings

No background for the person of Elijah is given. His name, "Yahweh is my God," may be a title applied to him because of his challenge to Baal worship. Elijah's challenge, characteristic of his behavior in other episodes of his story as told in the Bible, is bold and direct. Baal was the Canaanite god responsible for rain, thunder, lightning, and dew. Elijah not only challenges Baal on behalf of his own God, Yahweh, he challenges Jezebel, her priests, Ahab, and the people of Israel.

Widow of Zarephath

After Elijah's confrontation with Ahab, God tells him to flee out of Israel, to a hiding place by the brook Cherith, east of the Jordan, where he will be fed by ravens. When the brook dries up, God sends him to a widow living in the town of Zarephatho in Phoenicia. When Elijah finds her and asks to be fed, she says that she does not have sufficient food to keep her and her own son alive. Elijah tells her that God will not allow her supply of flour or oil to run out, saying, "Don't be afraid..this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: 'The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the land," illustrating that the demand of the covenant is not given without the promise of the covenant. She feeds him the last of their food, and Elijah's promise miraculously comes true; thus, by an act of faith the woman received the promised blessing. God gave her "manna" from heaven even while he was withholding food from his unfaithful people in the promised land. Some time later, the widow's son dies, and the widow cried, "Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?" Moved by a faith like that of Abraham (Romans 4:17, Hebrews 11:19), Elijah prays that God might restore her son so that the veracity and trustworthiness of God's word might be demonstrated. 1 Kings 17:22 relates how God "heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived." This is the first instance of raising the dead recorded in Scripture. This non-Israelite widow was granted the best covenant blessing in the person of her son, the only hope for a widow in ancient society. The widow cried, "...the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth." She made a confession that the Israelites had failed to make.

After more than three years of drought and famine, God tells Elijah to return to Ahab and announce the end of the drought: not occasioned by repentance in Israel but by the command of the Lord, who had determined to reveal himself again to his people. While on his way, Elijah meets Obadiah, the head of Ahab's household, who had hidden a hundred prophets of the God of Israel when Ahab and Jezebel had been killing them. Elijah sends Obadiah back to Ahab to announce his return to Israel.

Challenge to Baal

When Ahab confronts Elijah, he refers to him as the "troubler of Israel." Elijah responds by throwing the charge back at Ahab, saying that it is Ahab who has troubled Israel by allowing the worship of false gods. Elijah then berates both the people of Israel and Ahab for their acquiescence in Baal worship. “How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal then follow him” (1 Kings 18:21). And the people were silent. The Hebrew for this word, "go limping" or "waver", is the same as that used for "danced" in verse 26, where the prophets of Baal frantically dance. Elijah speaks with sharp irony: in the religious ambivalence of Israel, she is engaging in a wild and futile religious "dance".
At this point Elijah proposes a direct test of the powers of Baal and Yahweh. The people of Israel, 450 prophets of Baal, and 400 prophets of Asherah are summoned to Mount Carmel. Two altars are built, one for Baal and one for Yahweh. Wood is laid on the altars. Two oxen are slaughtered and cut into pieces; the pieces are laid on the wood. Elijah then invites the priests of Baal to pray for fire to light the sacrifice. They pray from morning to noon without success. Elijah ridicules their efforts. They respond by cutting themselves and adding their own blood to the sacrifice (such mutilation of the body was strictly forbidden in the Mosaic law). They continue praying until evening without success.

Elijah now orders that the altar of Yahweh be drenched with water from "four large jars" poured three times (1 Kings 18:33–34). He asks God to accept the sacrifice. Fire falls from the sky, consuming the water, the sacrifice and the stones of the altar itself as well. Elijah seizes the moment and orders the death of the prophets of Baal. Elijah prays earnestly for rain to fall again on the land. Then the rains begin, signaling the end of the famine.

Mt. Horeb

Jezebel, enraged that Elijah had ordered the deaths of her priests, threatens to kill Elijah (1 Kings 19:1–13). This was Elijah's first encounter with Jezebel, and not the last. Later Elijah would prophesy about Jezebel's death, because of her sin. Later, Elijah flees to Beersheba in Judah, continues alone into the wilderness, and finally sits down under a juniper tree, praying for death. He falls asleep under the tree; an angel touches him and tells him to wake and eat. When he wakes he finds bread and a jar of water. He eats, drinks, and goes back to sleep. The angel comes a second time and tells him to eat and drink because he has a long journey ahead of him.

Elijah travels, for forty days and forty nights, to Mount Horeb, where Moses had received the Ten Commandments. Elijah is the only person described in the Bible as going back to Horeb after Moses and his generation had left Horeb several centuries before. He seeks shelter in a cave. God again speaks to Elijah (1 Kings 19:9): "What doest thou here, Elijah?". Elijah did not give a direct answer to the Lord's question but evades and equivocates, implying that the work the Lord had begun centuries earlier had now come to nothing, and that his own work was fruitless. Unlike Moses, who tried to defend Israel when they sinned with the golden calf, Elijah bitterly complains over the Israelites' unfaithfulness and says he is the "only one left". Up until this time Elijah has only the word of God to guide him, but now he is told to go outside the cave and "stand before the Lord." A terrible wind passes, but God is not in the wind. A great earthquake shakes the mountain, but God is not in the earthquake. Then a fire passes the mountain, but God is not in the fire. Then a "still small voice" comes to Elijah and asks again, "What doest thou here, Elijah?" Elijah again evades the question and his lament is unrevised, showing that he did not understand the importance of the divine revelation he had just witnessed. God then sends him out again, this time to Damascus to anoint Hazael as king of Syria, Jehu as king of Israel, and Elisha as his replacement.

Vineyard of Naboth

Elijah encounters Ahab again in 1 Kings 21, after Ahab has acquired possession of a vineyard by murder. Ahab desires to have the vineyard of Naboth of Jezreel. He offers a better vineyard or a fair price for the land. But Naboth tells Ahab that God has told him not to part with the land. Ahab accepts this answer with sullen bad grace. Jezebel, however, plots a method for acquiring the land. She sends letters, in Ahab's name, to the elders and nobles who lived near Naboth. They are to arrange a feast and invite Naboth. At the feast, false charges of cursing God and Ahab are to be made against him. The plot is carried out and Naboth is stoned to death. When word comes that Naboth is dead, Jezebel tells Ahab to take possession of the vineyard.

God again speaks to Elijah and sends him to confront Ahab with a question and a prophecy: "Have you killed and also taken possession?" and, "In the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick up your own blood" (1 Kings 21:19). Ahab begins the confrontation by calling Elijah his enemy. Elijah responds by throwing the charge back at him, telling him that he has made himself the enemy of God by his own actions. Elijah then goes beyond the prophecy he was given and tells Ahab that his entire kingdom will reject his authority; that Jezebel will be eaten by dogs within Jezreel; and that his family will be consumed by dogs as well (if they die in a city) or by birds (if they die in the country). When Ahab hears this he repents to such a degree that God relents in punishing Ahab but will punish Jezebel and their son—Ahaziah.

Ahaziah

Elijah continues now from Ahab to an encounter with Ahaziah. The scene opens with Ahaziah seriously injured in a fall. He sends to the priests of Baalzebub in Ekron, outside the kingdom of Israel, to know if he will recover. Elijah intercepts his messengers and sends them back to Ahaziah with a message. In typical Elijah fashion, the message begins with a blunt, impertinent question: "Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are sending to inquire of Baalzebub, the god of Ekron?"(2 Kings 1:6). Ahaziah asks the messengers to describe the person who gave them this message. They tell him he wore a hairy coat with a leather belt and he instantly recognizes the description as Elijah the Tishbite. Ahaziah sends out three groups of soldiers to arrest Elijah. The first two are destroyed by fire which Elijah calls down from heaven. The leader of the third group asks for mercy for himself and his men. Elijah agrees to accompany this third group to Ahaziah, where he gives his prophecy in person.

Departure

Elijah, in company with Elisha (Eliseus), approaches the Jordan. He rolls up his mantle and strikes the water (2 Kings 2:8). The water immediately divides and Elijah and Elisha cross on dry land. Suddenly, a chariot of fire and horses of fire appear and Elijah is lifted up in a whirlwind. As Elijah is lifted up, his mantle falls to the ground and Elisha picks it up.

Final mention: 2nd Chronicles


Elijah is mentioned once more in 2 Chronicles 21, which will be his final mention in the Hebrew Bible. A letter is sent under the prophet's name to Jehoram of Judah. It tells him that he has led the people of Judah astray in the same way that Israel was led astray. The prophet ends the letter with a prediction of a painful death. This letter is a puzzle to readers for several reasons. First, it concerns a king of the southern kingdom, while Elijah concerned himself with the kingdom of Israel. Second, the message begins with "Thus says YHVH, God of your father David..." rather than the more usual "...in the name of YHVH the God of Israel."

The Christian End of Elijah in Malachi

"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse."
— Malachi 4:5–6
While the final mention of Elijah in the Hebrew Bible is in the Book of Chronicles, the Christian Bible's reversal of the ordering of the books of the Hebrew Bible in order to place the Book of Malachi, which prophecies a messiah, immediately before the Christian Gospels, means that Elijah's final "Old Testament" appearance is in the Book of Malachi, where it is written, "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord." That day is described as the burning of a great furnace, "... so that it will leave them neither root nor branch." (Malachi 3:19) Traditionally, in Judaism, this is taken to mean the return of Elijah will precede the Messiah. In Christianity it is traditionally believed that the ministry of John the Baptist fulfilled this prophecy.

Textual analysis

According to one recent researcher, the Elijah stories were added to the Deuteronomistic History in four stages. The first stage dates from the final edition of the History, about 560 BC, when the three stories of Naboth’s vineyard, the death of Ahaziah, and the story of Jehu’s coup were included to embody the themes of the reliability of God's word and the cycle of Baal worship and religious reform in the history of the Northern Kingdom. The narratives about the Omride wars were added shortly afterwards to illustrate a newly introduced theme, that the attitude of the king towards the word of the prophets determines the fate of Israel. 1 Kings 17–18 was added in early post-Exilic times (after 538 BC) to demonstrate the possibility of a new life in community with God after the time of judgment. In the fifth century BC, 1 Kings 19:1–18 and the remaining Elisha stories were inserted to give prophecy a legitimate foundation in the history of Israel.


Elijah in Christianity

References in the New Testament

In the New Testament, Jesus would say for those who believed, John the Baptist was Elijah, who would come before the "great and terrible day" as predicted by Malachi. Some English translations of the New Testament use Elias, a Latin form of the name. In the King James Version, "Elias" appears only in the texts translated from Greek.

John the Baptist

John the Baptist preached a message of repentance and baptism. He predicted the day of judgment using imagery similar to that of Malachi. He also preached that the Messiah was coming. All of this was done in a style that immediately recalled the image of Elijah to his audience. He wore a coat of animal hair secured with a leather belt (Matthew 3:4, Mark 1:6). He also frequently preached in wilderness areas: near the Jordan river.
In the Gospel of John, John the Baptist was asked by a delegation of priests if he was Elijah. To which, he replied "I am not (John 1:21)." The author of Matthew 11:14 and Matthew 17:10–13 however, makes it clear that John was Elijah (or that he fulfilled the office of Elijah) but was not recognized as such. In the annunciation narrative in Luke, an angel appears to Zechariah, John's father, and tells him that John "will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God," and that he will go forth "in the spirit and power of Elijah (Luke 1:16–17)."

Jesus

In the Gospel of Luke, Herod Antipas hears some of the stories surrounding Jesus. Some tell Herod that John the Baptist, whom he had executed, has come back to life. Others tell him that it is Elijah.Later in the same gospel, Jesus asks his disciples who the people say that he is. The apostles' answer includes Elijah among others. However, Jesus' ministry had little in common with that of Elijah; in particular, he preached the forgiveness of one's enemies, while Elijah killed his. Miracle stories similar to those of Elijah were associated with Jesus (e. g. raising of the dead, miraculous feeding). Jesus implicitly separates himself from Elijah when he rebukes James and John for desiring to call down fire upon an unwelcoming Samaritan village in a similar manner to Elijah.  Likewise, Jesus rebukes a potential follower who wanted first to return home to say farewell to his family, whereas Elijah permitted this of his replacement Elisha. During Jesus' crucifixion, some of the onlookers wonder if Elijah will come to rescue him, as by the time of Jesus, Elijah had entered folklore as a rescuer of Jews in distress.

 

Transfiguration

Elijah makes an appearance in the New Testament during an incident known as the Transfiguration.
At the summit of an unnamed mount, Jesus' face begins to shine. The disciples who are with Him hear the voice of God announce that Jesus is "My beloved Son." The disciples also see Moses and Elijah appear and talk with Jesus. Peter is so struck by the experience that he asks Jesus if they should not build three "tabernacles": one for Elijah, one for Jesus and one for Moses.
There is consensus among Christian theologians that Elijah appears as a witness of the prophets and Moses as a witness of the law for the divinely announced "Son of God."

Other references

Elijah is mentioned three more times in the New Testament: in Luke, Romans, and James. In Luke 4:24–27, Jesus uses Elijah as an example of rejected prophets. Jesus says, "No prophet is accepted in his own country," and then mentions Elijah, saying that there were many widows in Israel, but Elijah was sent to one in Phoenicia. In Romans 11:1–6, Paul cites Elijah as an example of God's never forsaking his people (the Israelites). In James 5:16–18, James says, "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much," and then cites Elijah's prayers which started and ended the famine in Israel as examples.


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