1 Kgs 18:20-39
Today’s first reading describes Elijah’s face-off with the prophets of the pagan god Baal. Elijah is on a mission from God: he follows the Lord’s commands and makes all the preparations for a sacrifice, but instead of lighting the fire under it, he douses the sacrifice and the altar with water, in order that God’s power and might may be that much more apparent to onlookers. Elijah trusts that God will act. Elijah trusted that God would act, and did everything that he needed to in order that God’s glory be shown, bringing others to belief.
So too, we must trust that God, who has begun a good work in us, will bring it to fulfillment (Phil 1:6). Two weeks ago, I stood on the steps of West Virginia’s capitol building to have my head shaved as a symbol of the scalping of the Appalachia mountains through Mountaintop Removal coal mining. How often does God call us to stand up or speak out on behalf of others who cannot speak for themselves, or on behalf of God’s creation?
Of course, doing God’s will requires discernment, listening to how God is calling us. God speaks in our hearts, through the gentle tugs of hope, admiration, or empathetic aching for another’s pain, and in this way guides us, that we may offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God (Rm 12:1). We rarely have it all figured out, but when we are doing God’s work and place the results in God’s hands, God will see it through. We must cultivate the discipline to listen to God speaking in our hearts and pray for the strength to act as God calls us.
-Moira Reilly (PVI-Jamaica ’06-’07) is a caretaker at Bethlehem Farm, a Catholic community in Appalachia that seeks to transform lives through service with the local community and the teaching of sustainable practices. We invite volunteers to join us in living out the Gospel cornerstones of prayer, community, simplicity, and service. www.bethlehemfarm.net