The First reading at Mass today, the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, is a glorious vivid account of a change of mind!
The Lord said to Elijah, ‘Go, you are to anoint Elisha son of Shaphat, of Abel Meholah, as prophet to succeed you.’
Leaving there, Elijah came on Elisha son of Shaphat as he was ploughing behind twelve yoke of oxen, he himself being with the twelfth. Elijah passed near to him and threw his cloak over him. Elisha left his oxen and ran after Elijah. ‘Let me kiss my father and mother, then I will follow you’ he said. Elijah answered, ‘Go, go back; for have I done anything to you?’
Elisha turned away, took the pair of oxen and slaughtered them. He used the plough for cooking the oxen, then gave to his men, who ate. He then rose, and followed Elijah and became his servant.
1 Kings 19:16,19-21
Elisha is challenged by Elijah and sees the error of his ways. To want to say farewell to parents before leaving does not sound too outrageous a request, but in the world of the story it prefigures what might so easily become a series of hesitancies and drawing back from the will of God in this prophet, similar to those which the Old Testament tirelessly recounts in other prophets, patriarchs , kings and judges, and which are told to shame Israel into greater faithfulness in the present day.
- What restricts your freedom to act?
- What sustains it?
Holy Family, Marseille. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.